What is e-social science?

OK, now that you understand e-science…what is e-social science? Well I am glad you asked. E-social science is like e-science in that it utilises a high capacity research ‘grid’, but the questions that is concerns itself with, chiefly focus upon large social questions such as population trends. E-social science has its own data centre (called the UK Data Archive) plus a number of associated projects and initiatives. Here is a list from the UK Data Archive. Also check out the National Centre for e-social science (NCESS) who coordinate many of the activities within the field within the UK.

What is UK e-science?

There is an active research community in the UK termed ‘e-science’. It has only been around for about 6 years (talk about emerging fields) and has already developed a pretty impressive portfolio of projects. E-science’s main goal is promote technologies and applications that work on the UK’s research grid (which is a high-speed and high-capacity national network to share resources and computational power). One example of the work of e-science is the Digital Curation Centre that provides techniques to manage the digital research output of scientists in the UK and internationally.

Where I work at the Arts and Humanities Data Service (ADHS) at King’s College in London, the Arts and Humanities e-science support centre seeks to promote e-science and the use of grid technologies in the Arts and Humanities. One such application are VREs or ‘Virtual Research Environments’ that assist Humanities researchers with online collaboration tasks. The centre also provides training and seminars (and other activities) to promote the use of the grid.

Community Engagement and ICT

For those interested in ICTs and Community Engagement, I have transcribed a list of useful sites from that wonderful publication “Towards Whole of Community Engagement: A Practical Toolkit” by Heather J Aslin and Valarie A Brown. Although none of these links particularly concern ICTs, the methodologies and approaches used in them could be applied to innovation with ICTs in a community setting (including political innovation or ‘innovation’ in the formation of social or cultural capital).
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Wikipedia versus Britannica

One of the more obvious criticisms of Wikipedia’s open publishing and open peer-review system is that it is prone to inaccuracies. However, according to this study (addmittedly small) from Nature Magazine, it is no more inaccurate than Encyclopaedia Britannica.

One of the extraordinary stories of the Internet age is that of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. This radical and rapidly growing publication, which includes close to 4 million entries, is now a much-used resource. But it is also controversial: if anyone can edit entries, how do users know if Wikipedia is as accurate as established sources such as Encyclopaedia Britannica (link).

What is an argument?

Possibly the hardest educational skill to learn is argument. It takes years to effectivly learn how to construct an argument. There are some good software products around that assist in the 'mapping' and construction of arguments. Have a look at this research project from the University of Dundee in the UK. It's called Araucaria v3.

Araucaria is a software tool for analysing arguments. It aids a user in reconstructing and diagramming an argument using a simple point-and-click interface. The software also supports argumentation schemes, and provides a user-customisable set of schemes with which to analyse arguments.

Also, there are some good links to debates within the field and other products on Tim Van Gelder's Austhink (which is based here in Carlton, Melbourne).