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Mozilla wants to bring science into the internet age

Mozilla has announced the launch of its Science Lab, a collaborative tool to improve the use of the internet in science.

Mozilla has announced the launch of its Science Lab, a collaborative tool to improve the use of the internet in science.

(Boys Behind a Science Experiment image by The Rubel Collection, public domain)

Science, according to Mozilla, is still living in the analogue age. It relies on papers, which discourages sharing and collaborative learning. Even though scientists created the web, the company has asserted, the web has not transformed scientific practice in the same way that it has media, education and business.

To that end, Mozilla has announced Science Lab in collaboration with the Alfred P Sloan Foundation: a tool designed for researchers and the open web community to figure out a way to bring science to the open web.

Kaitlin Thaney, who worked at Digital Science advocating the use of digital tools in research, and helped found and run the Creative Commons science program, has been appointed as the director of the new project.

"Openness, empowerment and disruption are baked into Mozilla's DNA," Thaney said. "Their belief in the power of the open web and drive to explore new ways the technology can transform is inspiring. They truly believe that we all should be able to innovate in the digital world, regardless of your level of technical proficiency — that we should be able to be more than passive consumers. This is incredibly important for science, especially as we grapple with a daunting skills gap at the university level that is, in many cases, disincentivising researchers to participate, to innovate or even, in some cases, continue to do science."

To start with, the Science Lab will be focusing on three core areas: teaching "digital literacy" using Software Carpentry so that scientists have the ability to make the most out of next-generation web tools; community support and innovation to help scientists work together; and opening a global conversation.

"The Science Lab will foster dialogue between the open web community and researchers to tackle this challenge," wrote Foundation director Mark Surman in a Mozilla blog post. "Together, they'll share ideas, tools and best practices for using next-generation web solutions to solve real problems in science, and explore ways to make research more agile and collaborative."