Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Science Commons on cyberinfrastructure

Donna Wentworth, What’s “cyberinfrastructure”?, Science Commons blog, March 24, 2008.

... According to the National Science Foundation, cyberinfrastructure is “like the physical infrastructure of roads, bridges, power grids, telephone lines and water systems that support modern society,” but “refers to the distributed computer, information and communication technologies combined with the personnel and integrating components that provide a long-term platform to empower the modern scientific research endeavor.” (People in other countries use different terms for roughly the same concept; in the UK and Australia, for instance, cyberinfrastructure is referred to as “e-science” and “e-research,” respectively.) ...

Of course, there is a network that we can use for sharing scientific data: the Internet. What’s missing here is infrastructure — but not in the purely technical sense. We need more than computers, software, routers and fiber to share scientific information more efficiently; we need a legal and policy infrastructure that supports (and better yet, rewards) sharing.

At Science Commons, we use the term “cyberinfrastructure” — and more often, “collaborative infrastructure” — in this broader sense. Elements of an infrastructure can include everything from software and web protocols to licensing regimes and development policies. Science Commons is working to facilitate the emergence of an open, decentralized infrastructure designed to foster knowledge re-use and discovery — one that can be implemented in a way that respects the autonomy of each collaborator. We believe that this approach holds the most promise as we continue the transition from a world where scientific research is carried out by large teams with supercomputers to a world where small teams — perhaps even individuals — can effectively use the network to find, analyze and build on one another’s data. ...