Some concerns and questions that are best uttered in form of FAQs …
Doesn´t Open Science already exist?
Yes, that is actually true, science was always open (The word roots of ‘publication’ and ‘patent’ actually mean to ‘lay open’), so you could say it’s MORE open science.
More open Science? Is ‘Open Science’ the solution?
We don´t see ‘Open Science’ from a technical or procedural point of view, e.g. with respect to publishing/communication methods. We see ‘Opening Science’ as a process to break with wrong cultures that have evolved (e.g. wrongly applied statistics, tendency to just accept quantitative research, …). We believe that the current ways to incentivise research and science have contributed to these constrictive cultures and it will be hard to break with these.
Are you riding hype or just using buzzwords?
No and Yes. Hype is a valuable tool to draw attention, attract investors and motivate people. Buzzwords and hype are also abused. Scams, real innovations, and bullshit might look alike in the very early stages. Hopefully Blockchain for Science will one day provide valuable tools (prediction markets, reputation systems, etc.) to make this question irrelevant.
Git (other hashed data trails, secured databases, etc. ) already exist, so what is the fuss around Blockchain for Science?
Yes, from a technical perspective, there are existing solutions for keeping data and cryptographically proof dependcies. However, Blockchain for Science is more than a technical solution alone. It brings the socio-cultural-legal-political-economic revolution of blockchain to the scientific eco-system. Consider this, if one would evaluate the novelty of the Web 2.0 from a purely technical point of view (e.g. facebook is just a database with a ranking algorithm) one would miss most of what’s happening, because in fact Web 2.0 has fundamentally changed the way we interact with each other.
What problems are you solving?
Indeed, Blockchain cannot do anything a trusted third party couldn´t be doing – in theory. However, this trusted third party has to be very well trusted, equipped and perfectly secured (It is like asking for the Hobbsche Leviathan). We are so used to trust service providers. And of course research works without blockchain – at least, we are doing science right now. However, we think that will change, especially, if it comes to the transfer of monetarian value, research integrity, subject privacy, etc.
How do you want to square the CAP-Theorem?
Haha, we would really love to, but we cannot (at least without a very black swan), but we realized that the various weightings of C-A-P, their real world implementations, incentivisation models and entanglements are just now becoming available and knowledge creation will be affected by them.
So what are decentralized, immutable, etc. blockchain databases good for if no one uses them?
Indeed, they would be very useless – unless people like us educate other scientists about their advantages and create a movement (again, hype can help with that).
Isn´t the biggest problem in data sharing he incompatibility of data, no background information, missing metadata, etc. etc.?
Yes, we agree, but let us assume these things would be fixed at some point, how would you organize the data sharing then? We are one step further down the road!
Aren´t you dreaming, at least a little bit? Connect all research devices, distribute research money anonymously, a living knowledge network …?
Well on the way to the bus it might look like we are. But only 10 years ago social networks for scientists looked superfluous and crazy, yet they helped millions of researchers to employ modern communications into their workflow and made millions of publications legally available. If blockchainified science / living knowledge networks look crazy today, would you bet money that they will look crazy 20 years from now? (Better bet on some blockchain tokens instead:)).
Making humanity multi-planetary?
Yes, that is our final frontier, but we are accepting other narratives as well and we believe that every individual has the right to persue his/her own dreams. Even if you are concerned with problems on earth, in the long run the exploration of the shear unlimited resources of the universe will allow the accommodation of as many as possible individuals. Still startled? Then consider this: intercontinental travelling only became a thing a couple of decades ago. For your great grandmother, a transatlantic trip was an adventure. 200 years ago, it was a once a lift-time decision … I think you can see where I’m going with this. Let´s get some work done … 🙂