Show us (and everyone else) what you’ve built

I got an invitation by email this morning to take part in yet another workshop on open science policy from someone who hoped it would be an opportunity to raise awareness, build community, and forge a common vision. I declined politely, but what I really wanted to say was:

Technology isn’t going to solve our problems on its own, but it’s time to stop talking about “why” and start showing people “how”.

The people who are going to be passionate about open science already are. Everyone else—the pragmatic majority of scientists—don’t want visions: they want ways to do more and better science. Skills training like Software Carpentry is necessary for that, but not sufficient on its own.

But that’s not all. People shouldn’t stop talking about open science and start building it because we know what to do; they should do it because we don’t. Faced with competing theories, scientists conduct experiments to determine which are true. Open science needs those experiments. It needs more prototypes getting kicked around by real scientists doing real work. The Open Access Button is a great example: it isn’t likely to change the world, but it might change a few minds by doing something useful, and we’ll learn a few things from it. We also need to do a better job of sharing what we’re learning, and of connecting the pieces we already have. (To paraphrase William Gibson, the future is already here, the pieces just don’t work with each other.)

We’d therefore like to extend an invitation to everyone who wants to build a part of the future, however small: if you will make a short demo video to show people what you’ve built, we’d be happy to feature it in this blog. And if enough people say, “Hey, that’s cool, I’m going to start using it,” we will include it in Software Carpentry workshops. You can reach us by email at, and we look forward to hearing from you.