FORCE11 Founders Interviews

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On April 12, 2017 the founders of FORCE11 had a conference call to discuss the history of the organization.

They were asked a series of 5 questions. The following are their answers:

 

Anita De Waard          Phil Bourne          Tim Clark          Gully A Burrns          Ivan Herman          Eduard Hovy          David De Roure 

 

 

Anita De Waard

 Vice President, Research Data Collaborations at Elsevier

 Elsevier - University of Utrecht

What is your memory of your involvement and series of events that led to the formation of the FORCE11? 

I met Ed completely by accident, on a glorious Mediterranean morning. I was about to have a (slightly hungover) breakfast in Budva, a small seaside town in Montenegro where the 2006 European Semantic Web Conference was taking place. I had spent most of the conference sipping strong Montenegrin coffee on the wonderful terrace overlooking the sea while chatting with my pals from France: Jean Rohmer, a gentlemanly old-school AI’er who kindly mocked the eager young Semantic Webbers for reinventing something AI had come up with decades earlier, and his many Francophone friends (with me vaguely listening along), who also thought that the best way to spend a conference was sitting on the terrace with ‘a coffee’, and, starting at the eminently acceptable hour of 4 pm, something stronger to accompany it.

So I had missed Ed’s keynote, but I hadn’t missed the buzz that surrounded it. Here was this Hovy guy, a fierce intellect from some other domain who had basically challenged this eager young community of tenure hopefuls by asking them what, exactly, they meant by ‘semantics’? Everyone was ‘sitting with their mouth full of teeth’, as the Dutch saying has it: semantics was RDF, wasn’t that obvious? But what,  asked had Hovy, did that mean.

Oh shit. And this was the guy I was now sitting opposite, with my tray with a boiled egg and a piece of toast, so I’d better sound like I knew what the hell I was doing at that conference… As it turned out, Ed was much more interested in what I was doing that in talking about his keynote, so I fumbled along without having to come out and say I hadn’t heard his talk. In fact, he told me that the topic that interested me (how to improve the scientific paper, using computer science) was a legitimate topic of study, and one, even, that he had just hired someone to work on, in his own group! He told me I should visit, and I was very intrigued, so I somehow came up with an excuse to visit ISI, where he worked. As it turned out, Ed was traveling when I visited, but I did meet Gully Burns, the postdoc he had hired to work on scientific papers.

Gully, it turned out, was something like an anti-Ed: also incredibly sharp, but giving off an excited and impassioned air, where Ed was all calm contemplation; focused on one thing (identifying dependent and independent variables in an experiment and marking them up through collections of neural connectivity papers) where Ed was an NLP renaissance man; building systems and scoring grants, where Ed mainly seemed focused on what his students were doing. Together and apart they were very stimulating conversation partners, and over the next year or so, I found myself coming up with more and more excuses to visit LA, to go see these guys and visit the wonderful, creative, intellectually rigorous environment at ISI. During one of these visits (Ed was home, for once!) someone — it might well have been Gully — suggested that instead of just working on new forms of publishing by ourselves, we should really organize a Challenge. A Grand Challenge, in fact, where we’d invite anyone and everyone who was interested in improving science publishing to submit their ideas. There would be a jury, chaired by Ed, and Elsevier would pay the prize money. And thus, the Elsevier Grand Challenge for Publishing in the Life Sciences was born.

The most fun part of the Grand Challenge was picking the judges: it was my goal to make as multifaceted a panel as I could, with people who would complement each other in every possible way. And so there was a rigorous bioinformatician (Alfonso Valencia) as well as a librarian deeply steeped in big systems architecture (David Rosenthal); a Semantic-Web savvy ex-Oracle pharmacologist (Susie Stephens) as well a zoologist who had just learned the word ‘ontology’ (David Shotton); a few Elsevier people including the Editor-in-Chief of Cell (Emily Marcus) rounded off the panel, and Ed, To Rule Them All. We got 71 proposals from 13 countries, which were winnowed down to 10 semi-finalists, who all presented their contribution to each other at a great meeting at the MIT Stata Center, on December 15th 2008. I remember it well, because it was my birthday, and I was sitting at the dinner that evening with the judges and realized two things:

1)   I actually really liked all of these people, and I wanted to spend more time with them;

2)   They were all really enjoying each other’s company as well, and had an incredible amount to talk about.

In short: it felt like a community was about to spawn.

After the Grand Challenge, Ed and Tim Clark (who stopped by at the Stata Center and whose work on semantics in health care dovetailed nicely with some of the topics that came up) and Siegfried Handshuh and Rosalynd Reid and Amy Brand and I started planning a conference, tentatively titled ‘Forc’, “the Future of Research Communications” (and I secretly started planning a series of Star Wars spoof ads with forls in them, to advertise our effort, like ‘The Forc is Strong in This One” and “Use the Forc, Luke!”)  We wanted to co-organise it with the W3C meeting in Boston; then that didn’t work, and then we wanted Elsevier and Harvard to co-organise it (and even looked at rooms and lecture halls), but the addition of two such administrative behemoths prevented any progress. All of it seemed to no avail, until I met Ivan Herman — a bearded Hungarian who worked for the W3C in Amsterdam — at the metro platform at Bijlmer Station. Ivan suggested we submit a proposal for a Dagstuhl workshop, which Ed thought was a splendid idea, so we submitted a proposal for the Fall of 2010, with Ed, Tim, Ivan and myself as co-chairs, and sat around waiting for news from Germany.

Around that time, we heard that one Phil Bourne was organizing a meeting with a very similar idea, in San Diego, called ‘Beyond the PDF’. Well, it seemed this Phil guy was much more organized than we were, because he had a date, and a venue, and we decided since we couldn’t lick him, we might as well join him! So we all headed out to San Diego, with Gully, Paul Groth (a phD student at ISI), and Cameron Neylon (a chemist from Britain). The six of us (with Phil and Ed and myself) got together to participate in one of the most exciting, liveliest conferences I’ve ever attended. People of all sorts of backgrounds debated with each other about what we could do, should do, regarding science communication: there were debates about business models and semantics (both the Web version and Ed’s version!) and there were app builders and publishers and Maryanne Martone got up and discussed the need of some sort of a business model with Peter Murray-Rust: all in all, it was a thrilling mix, and everything we ever hoped our ‘Forc’ could be. Phil turned out to be the most gifted organizer I’d ever met: as he put it, ‘you just put good people in a room and let them get on with it’. Every time I see him I marvel at how little he (visibly) does to get people to excel and collaborate, he is a true master manager, without ever seeming to ‘manage’.

Meanwhile, our Dagstuhl conference had gotten accepted, so we had a natural venue to follow up on the excitement of Beyond the PDF; and there, with a masterful stroke of David (Shotton)’s pen, the Future of Research Communications and E-scholarhip 2011 was formed: Force11.

What was your original vision and what expectations did you have based on your interests?  Did this happen and if not do you think it still can?  What would need to happen? What is the most important thing that has happened, and not happened?

For me, the goal was two fold: first, create a multi-disciplinary, international and diverse community of people who gathered around a shared topic, something like the “Future of publishing”; and second, create a platform (in the sense of a webspace where things could be built) to actually MAKE that future happen. I think the first one happened, and am thrilled and excited by hearing many people I’ve never met talk positively about Force11 as a community where they meet new and interesting people.

The second has not happened. The reason that people say it hasn’t happened is that noone is funded to do this; as an outsider, I think this is a bit of an excuse. We have all spent many hours on calls and at meetings which weren’t directly funded either, and could have spent this time building things, instead. I feel partly responsible for not making this happen: first with Tim Clark and then with Paul Groth and Mike Kurtz I’ve made plans for ‘new’ platforms, and each time we slacked off, and found an excuse not to do it. With Tim, we were also very excited about changing the way conferences are done, and we have only made small inroads there.

What should FORCE11 do next? What could it do next?

I think the idea of running a ‘new’ journal in a ‘new’ way is still very exciting. In my view, Force11 should join forces with e.g. the National Data Service in the US, who have a platform where lots of tools are shared, and e.g. invite special issues on particular topics (peer review! Jupyter Notebooks! Preprints!) and have people contribute not just their ideas, but their software, for others to share. NDSLabs might be a perfect platform: perhaps we can convince the Whole Tale participants (some of whom are active Force11 members) to make one of their use cases a Force11 special issue? Can we reach out to the active community of young scientists involved in e.g. Jupyter notebooks, and have them edit a session of a conference or an online meeting?

What is your long term vision of Scholarly Communication.  

At a particularly delightful dinner in Marina Del Rey with Phil, Gully and Ed I had a revelation regarding what the future should look like (which I wrote down in this Nature Precedings paper, later published in Logos) and this is still more or less how I feel about this. Basically, I think scholarly communication should rely on data sharing: by hosting data in the cloud that is described by a good set of metadata spewed out by cloud-connected equipment and well-described workflows, the basic research process is (instantly and constantly) described. Narratives are crafted about the why, what and how of this data creation, as hypotheses are connected to evidence. Papers cite claims and data; a user accesses a network of assertions, linked to evidence. Market places of tools and data serve to enable interoperable tools and systems; data and tool creation and curation are rewarded fully, akin to idea generation and validation.

Making this vision a reality will require constant conversations and efforts supported by all parties in the scholarly workflow: librarians, scientists, publishers, software developers, computer scientists, government agencies, and the general public. As a strong organisation, Force11 can play a key role in bringing all these parties together, and helping start many of these conversations.


  

Phil Bourne​

 Associate Director for Data Science (ADDS)

 The National Institutes of Health

 

What is your memory of your involvement and series of events that led to the formation of the FORCE11? 

The thing is, I care about the science; communicating that science is secondary, but nevertheless a key ingredient. When I stepped down as President of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) in 2002 I took on the role of Chair of the Publications Committee because I felt our science needed an outlet it did not have. The journal Bioinformatics was great, but it was us (bioinformaticians) talking to ourselves. How to engage the broader biomedical community? PLOS Computational Biology, advocated by the Publications Committee,  was the answer (the jury is still out on whether it achieved that aim). Interestingly the decision to get involved with the journal passed by one vote at the ISCB board meeting. At that time there was not a strong following for open access. There was more concern about raising funds for the society. I tried to get an Editor in Chief for PLOS CB without luck and each person I asked said, “you do it.” And so I did, without, I might add, with much regard for OA, it just seemed a nice addition. Soon, however, I became enamoured by the possibilities of OA. A free to use corpus of knowledge, what could be better? That thought was in my head as Anita said I should meet Ed and Gully. I don't know when I first encountered Anita, but she is the web spinner, the networker, the connector. More on Anita in a second. It was a wonderful meeting between us all. Here were folks who actually new how to use a corpus! From that the Beyond the PDF workshop was imagined and made a reality thanks to Sloan, Moore and the Doris Duke foundations.

For me it was the best workshop I have ever attended (embarrassing to say as I was an organizer :). It seemed at least the first time a like-minded but diverse group of stakeholders got together. I found it electric and thanks to their collective intellect began to really appreciate the possibilities of open scholarship. The Dagstuhl meeting had already been planned before Beyond the PDF and that meeting, held a few months later, became the pivotal moment when a larger group of stakeholders came up with a manifesto and the idea of Force11. Grabbing bottles of wine and adding them to your imaginary tab helped. It was just a magic group of people with diverse skills. Too embarrassing to go into a lot of detail but here is a couple of profiles. Five of us, with Paul Groth as the driver, rocketed down the autobahn in a fancy Audi from Amsterdam to the meeting in Germany. On the way back Paul was sleepy (who wouldn’t be) and Anita kept him alert by making him speak Dutch. It was magic and we got back alive. This is what good colleagues and friends do for each other. Ed, oh so patient and listening and thoughtful - why can't I be like that. Carole organizing us and getting action items. Herbert making me realize some people had been doing this for years. Judy who was clearly much fitter than I as we bicycled around the countryside. And on and on. These are magical people.

What was your original vision and what expectations did you have based on your interests?  Did this happen and if not do you think it still can?  What would need to happen?

The vision is to have a fully accessible and reusable (with attribution) corpus of data, analytics and associated knowledge from which discoveries can be made that would otherwise not be made or be stalled by a business model and lingering fuddy-duddy attitudes that are totally broken in the digital age.

Of course it can happen and it will - the good will reign supreme. Force11 is a community driven bottom up approach. Funders and publishers are the top down. Many publishers don’t want to change what is profitable. Funders are getting there but it is a slow process. I recently appreciated that maybe there is another lever. In the US (and their are equivalents in other regions) there are public universities that are responsible to the state (aka get state funding) and the states are really getting into open data/open knowledge. Maybe the states will put pressure on state universities in the way the federal government and publishers have not. We can dream.

What is the most important thing that has happened, and not happened?

A community coming together is critical. On a personal note a group of people who share a vision and truly like each other even as they represent different stakeholders in the ecosystem is magic. Something tangible as a result the data citation principles.

What should FORCE11 do next? What could it do next?

The organization has broadened and that is to the credit of all involved. I am proud of them all. But it is still very much a group of believers talking to themselves. We need to convert the scientists who are driven by the hyper-intensive research environment that exists today. No easy task. We need leading scientists who are evangelists for change in scholarly communication. ASAPbio is a model in this regard. We need to have Harold Varmus as a member of the board of Force11. Okay I use that as a metaphor for having scientist(s) who are highly respected as scientists stand up and say Force11 is it.

What is your long term vision of Scholarly Communication.  

Complete access to all knowledge by everyone on the planet, regardless of race, geographic locations, economic status etc., etc. With complete access the ability to use that knowledge in new ways that only those people can imagine.


 

Tim Clark

 Assistant Professor of Neurology, 
 Harvard Medical School

 Director, 
 Biomedical Informatics Core, Massachusetts General Hospital

 

What is your memory of your involvement and series of events that led to the formation of the FORCE11?  

My relationship with FORCE11 was mediated through Anita DeWaard, a skilled intellectual agitator and the hub of a number of interconnected networks of other very interesting thinkers. I first met Anita at a W3C meeting in 2004 in a discussion around the problem of representing - in a formal way - conflicting hypotheses in biomedical research.  We kept touch over the years and traded ideas.  In 2010 Anita was visiting me at the Mass General and we had lunch together at the cafeteria in the Martinos Center  where she told me about her meeting with Ivan Herman and their idea for a Dagstuhl Conference - would I like to help organize?  Needless to say I was both flattered and interested and IIRC helped in writing the proposal.

Dagstuhl is a great environment to hold focused meetings and I met many people who later became important influences there.  Basically there is a lovely forest and baroque castle/monastery, with a well-stocked wine cellar and library, and no incentives to go elsewhere or do other things.  Intense discussion went on throughout the days and evenings on what was needed to transform scholarly communications at the technical, social, and business level - and what these new forms of communications should look like and how to bring them into being.  

I remember rather clearly sitting at a picnic table outside the conference center on a warm day, at the end of the meeting, with David Shotton, Anita and several others, talking about how great the meeting was and how we could continue the discussion.  We thought we should have a discussion-hosting website, and yet *not* to name it after the meeting, “FORC”, as a bit too edgy Someone suggested “FORCE”, and in a heartbeat David Shotton, an avid sailor , suggested FORCE11 - explaining that not only was it 2011, but that wind intensity in sailing is measured at “Force 1” through “Force 10”.  FORCE11 would mean we are intense as can be.  While we were all still arguing, David had keyed up a domain registrar on his mobile and bought the FORCE11.org domain.

*** to be continued ***

What was your original vision and what expectations did you have based on your interests?  Did this happen and if not do you think it still can?  What would need to happen?

What is the most important thing that has happened, and not happened?

What should FORCE11 do next? What could it do next?

What is your long term vision of Scholarly Communication.  


 

Gully A Burns

 Project Leader, Intelligent Systems

 University of Southern California 

What is your memory of your involvement and series of events that led to the formation of the FORCE11?

In April 2010, Ed Hovy sent me an innocuous-looking email that contained Phil Bourne’s original solicitation for the ‘Beyond the PDF’ and mentioned that Phil was planning on riding his motorcycle up to LA for a day to discuss the idea. From that first meeting in May 2010, attended by Ed, Phil, Anita de Waard and my then postdoc, Cartic Ramakrishnan, it was clear that big ideas were on the table. We met in a conference room on the 4th floor of ISI and brainstormed.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard from that meeting:

 

IMG_0071.JPG

 

What I found particularly interesting was how what we were talking about how to make the implicit connections between workflows, data, text, figures, scientific concepts and theories explicit as AI-driven tools, as a part of the research communication process. We had all talked about the way that PDF papers locked vital knowledge away at length. At last here was a serious discussion about engaging the community (at least partially) on how to make sense of the scientific literature and make it tractable and powerful. A problem that had motivated my work since I started my doctorate in 1992.

What was your original vision and what expectations did you have based on your interests?  Did this happen and if not do you think it still can?  What would need to happen?

My original vision at that time was driven by a metamodel for the scientific process that I’ve used and refined at length since then, but still essentially looks the same. This is very similar to ideas put forward independently by numerous seasoned big names like Carl Kesselman, Tim Clark, and Carole Goble.

 

cosi6.jpg

I had hoped that we would engage in ways of automating the process of helping scientists accelerate their progress around this cycle. In particular, I thought (and still think) that there is an important distinction of differentiating between interpretations and observations, which is largely ignored within our existing scientific communication infrastructure. My thought was to build knowledge graphs from the literature that we could reason over to find the most interesting questions to investigate experimentally.  This idea was really made more concrete at the Beyond the PDF meeting in San Diego after learning about Carole Goble’s work on Research Objects and other ideas that seemed to enable the underlying concept, like nanopublications.  

I had expected to be able to get a lot of support for these ideas, but I realize now that this idea was a little premature, and that more pressing and tractable problems drove people in the community. I remain a bit of a dreamer and still find myself pursuing this vision, perhaps in the spirit of the Stephen Crane poem:

“I saw a man pursuing the horizon;  

Round and round they sped.

I was disturbed at this;   

I accosted the man.

“It is futile,” I said,

“You can never —”

“You lie,” he cried,   

And ran on.

I think this idea can still happen, and is looking more and more likely given the emergence of programs like DARPA’s Big Mechanism and encouraging feedback on proposals I’ve submitted in the last year.

What is the most important thing that has happened, and not happened?

I think that the FORCE11 Dahgstuhl meeting was an important moment in the evolution of the community’s thinking. The Beyond the PDF 2 meeting in Amsterdam also cemented the importance of non-academic players in the process and the more recent meeting in Portland was just super fun, as this whole process should be.

What should FORCE11 do next? What could it do next?

It is incredibly hard to say, especially in the company of the smart people in the FORCE11 community. I like Steven Johnson’s book: ‘Where do good ideas come from’ in which he talks about notions like ‘the adjacent possible’ and ‘liquid networks’. These ideas provide strategic direction for how we might attempt to foster communication and brilliance in scientists everyday lives.

I’d like to pose the scientific question: “How do scientific breakthroughs work?” and then investigate how our infrastructure could enable and empower that.

What is your long term vision of Scholarly Communication.  

Scholarly communication must reinvent itself to become more relevant and powerful in the current media environment. Basic science is refuted and disinformation is everywhere. We need to build systems that provide clear answers to scientific questions in a way that normal people can understand. The stakes are immeasurably high and I feel that the safety and freedom of future generations rests on our shoulders.

If we can build systems that enable people to understand and solve the most challenging problems facing humanity, then we will have succeeded.  


  Ivan Herman

 Digital Publishing Activity Lead at W3C

 W3C - Leiden University

What is your memory of your involvement and series of events that led to the formation of the FORCE11?

The issues that had bugged me, and which led me to my involvement, go back a long way. Of course, as everyone doing science, I was bothered by the way scholarly publishing was organized (like the peer review system that often does not properly work, things like that). But my problems were particular to my field in Computer Science. Let me just list some here:

  • I always worked in groups and teams that had a very down-to-Earth view on Computer Science; we not only came up with theories, mathematical algorithms, etc, but we liked to realize what we were considering, i.e., developed software systems, sometimes user facing, sometimes as part of a complete hardware-software system, etc. In some sense, I was in an area on the borderline of the engineering and a more theoretical computer science tradition. And this often did not fit the ‘official’ scientific establishment’s views; for many a publication describing a software system construction is not science, only the one that has abstract notions and mathematics in it is. Practically all the groups I had worked with had to periodically defend their very existence and, in some cases, they lost: there is a group that I participated in that was dismantled (partially) for these reasons. And the fight still goes on in many places. This narrow view on what is “science” really irritated me. I also realized later that other areas and other specialities have similar problems; publishing scientific data is a prominent example.

  • Another area I got myself involved in was the development of standards for various areas of information technologies (I did that in computer graphics, multimedia, and of course, later, in Web technologies). The question does arise: is participation in a standard development, being editor of a standard, etc, part of one’s scientific CV and publication list or not? Alas!, for many the answer is the latter (which means that, in effect, I am probably not considered to be a scientist any more by virtue of my work at W3C). This is incredibly short sighted: the definition, editing, etc, of a major standard is usually at least as complex (if not more) than the development of a large piece of software, and the reviews a standard gets during its development is more rigorous (probably many times over!), more detailed and thorough than any traditional peer review I have ever seen for scientific papers. Again: one hits the limits of what is and what is not considered “science”.

Beyond these specific issues, by the time Force11 came around I was already at W3C, involved with Web technologies. Which led to yet another “frustration”, though this time more general: the image scholarly publishing was offering. Essentially, scholarly publishing ignored the Web with all its potential; a conference proceedings or a journal, if at all on the Web, simply meant a list of PDF files without any use of what the Web offers us. Over the years (probably influenced by my Force11 activities, actually, although that is difficult trace back today) my main work at W3C has become digital publishing, and hopefully I can contribute in improving scholarly publication a bit over the years to come...

These problems were boiling in me, also affecting my so-called career,  but I was not sure what I could do about them; although colleagues around me were expressing the same frustrations as I had we, sort of, went along. (In a way, joining W3C was, for me, a way to get away from the problem and accept the “non-scientist” label.) I did not know about the “Beyond the PDF” event, for example, although it was clearly related to my issues around publishing.

Then I met Anita (whom I had known from before although, to be honest, I am not even sure when we met for the first time) at the Bijlmer train station in Amsterdam… and the rest is, as one says, history: we had a great chat around a coffee, Anita told me about “Beyond the PDF” and we had this idea to go for a Dagstuhl workshop (an application which, to my genuine surprise, was accepted at the first round, although it is notoriously difficult to get a slot in Dagstuhl!) which led to Force11, to the Force11 conferences, etc. I must admit I always felt a little bit as a new kid on the block among people who had been working on these issues for a while (Anita of course, but also Ed, Phil, Cameron, and all the others), but I was really happy I could help to set up the whole thing. I had some experience in setting up events, in running organizations, and I am pleased these experiences became helpful…

What was your original vision and what expectations did you have based on your interests?  Did this happen and if not do you think it still can?  What would need to happen?

Well… see above, in a sense. One comes to such a community to help to find a solution to one’s frustration…

Did things improve since then? It is always a matter of whether a glass is half full or half empty. I believe the situation around scientific data publishing has improved a lot, and publishing and maintaining data is now much more often seen as an acceptable and genuine scientific activity. With ‘Big Data’ coming to the fore, with the appearance of Deep Learning that relies, and depends on, massive amount of data, with the success of projects like the IBM’s Watson, etc., handling large datasets has an importance that no one, even in the conservative scientific establishment, can deny.

The scholarly communication world has also changed, although some of those changes are still only visible at corporate R&D teams and not necessarily in production yet. But I expect major changes becoming largely visible in the coming 1-2 years. There are great online journals these days that explore what one can do in publishing a scientific result truly using the possibilities of the Web (PeerJ or F1000, to take just two examples) and I happen to know that similar developments are happening at established publishers, too.

I am less happy about the “is scientific software development science?” problem. The same fights that my generation had to fight 20 years ago are still happening today. I must admit I do not know how wide the problem is but, at least in the environment around me in Amsterdam, the experience is not that good. We do have a way to go…

What is the most important thing that has happened, and not happened?

You mean at Force11? I believe the data citation and the software citation work have been tremendously important. The former is a great overall success, the latter maybe less so (yet), but its role may come. Both of these outcomes of Force11 certainly help to gain acceptance to activities that, so far, were not considered as “serious”. We should be proud of this.

We had some initiatives  that I would have cared about that did not really go anywhere. For example, I always found the topic of research objects very interesting, but it seems that it never went beyond an initial phase. Maybe somebody at some point will pick it up! I certainly hope so.

What has not happened? I do not think that Force11 ever looked at the issues surrounding the details of scholarly publishing as opposed to communication. Of course, publication is part of communication, but certainly not a minor one. What environments, web based tools, features, or possibilities one would expect from an online scientific publication? How can we exploit the possibilities among different actors on the Web (papers, citation services, social sites, etc) around publications? What about annotations, commenting and other feedback facilities? It may well be that the publishing industry will figure all this out by itself, but I am not sure. An independent forum like Force11 may have a role to play here.

What should FORCE11 do next? What could it do next?

A discussion that, I think, never happened at Force11, although I do remember having had these discussion in Dagstuhl, is to discuss larger societal issues. What is the role of science, of scientists, of scientific methods in society? Scientists are, after all, by and large dependent on society for their livelihood through funds, public universities and research centra, etc., and the relationships between society and scientists is much more tense these days than it used to be. This also touches on the “where are the limits of science?” question I mentioned above; this is not only a matter of what the science establishment accepts (or not), but it is also a matter of what society as a whole accepts to fund under the heading of “science” or not. This has become even more of a problem in the past few years, when money is more scarce, and when populism, which questions the very role and work of scientists overall, have become a force to reckon with. How should we improve this?

I believe that, by now, Force11 has the network to attack this large scale society discussions and could play a catalyst's role. Maybe we should consider only parts of the overall problem because it may be too much to taken on in its entirety; to be honest, I have not thought it through to understand how this public discussion could happen. This may be a major endeavour, requiring some charismatic persons to lead and represent, but worth at least considering...

What is your long term vision of Scholarly Communication.  

I do not think I have too much to add; I would just repeat myself...


  Eduard Hovy​

 Research Professor at the Language Technologies Institute of Carnegie Mellon University

 Co-Director for Research of the Command, Control, and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CCICADA)

 Regular High-Level Visiting Scientist, International Guest Academic Talents (IGAT) Program for the Development of

 University Disciplines in China

 

 

 


 

  David De Roure​

 Professor of e-Research

 University of Oxford