Exploring e-Science: An Introduction

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  • Exploring e-Science: An Introduction

    Nicholas W. Jankowski

    Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences

    Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

    A number of terms are in vogue that describe the transformation of science through

    utilization of Grid computing, Internet-based instrumentation, and global collabora-

    tion. For the purposes of this special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Medi-

    ated Communication, the term e-science serves as an umbrella for these initiatives.

    This article introduces the contributions to the collection and includes a number of sug-

    gestions for extending the exploratory work performed to date, including attention to

    disciplinary and contextual diversity and the importance of longitudinal research

    designs and historical awareness and of the social shaping of technology as a theoretical

    concept to understanding the changes currently underway in the scientific enterprise.



    Enhanced science, e-science, is one of many terms used to describe recent trans-

    formations in the scientific enterprise.1 The overall assertion behind this and othernomenclature is that the procedures and practices of traditional forms of science inwhich scholars engage during their everyday professional lives are undergoing radical

    change. Some commentators (e.g., Nentwich, 2003) suggest that the very essence ofscience is changing, particularly through employment of electronic networks and

    high-speed computerstwo of the core components of e-science. This transforma-tion is not limited to the natural sciences, where e-science has become, in some

    countries and disciplines, the modus operandi, but is also penetrating the domainsof the social sciences and humanities.

    The 11 articles prepared for this special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication consider features and concerns related to this transforma-

    tion. Here, in this introduction to the theme section, I provide background to itsdevelopment and share a personal encounter with e-science during a recent researchproject. This background provides the basis for clustering and introducing the con-

    tributions. In the concluding section I suggest several areas where further explorationof e-science initiatives might proceed. But first, I address the most basic of concerns:

    What is e-science?

    Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

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  • Terms and Definitions

    A variety of terms are in vogue to describe contemporary changes in the conduct of

    science. The most prevalent include: cyberscience, cyberinfrastructure, and e-science.The first of these terms, cyberscience, is advocated by Nentwich (2003), who has

    authored perhaps the most comprehensive overview of these developments preparedto date, concisely reflected in the subtitle of the volume: Research in the Age of the

    Internet. Nentwichs definition of cyberscience is all-encompassing: all scholarlyand scientific research activities in the virtual space generated by the networked

    computers and by advanced information and communication technologies in gen-eral (2003, p. 22). Tracing the genealogy of the term, Nentwich notes that it seemsto have originated in a journal article by Wouters (1996) and has subsequently

    appeared in various articles and conference panels. Interestingly, the term has notbeen adopted beyond Nentwichs own institutional turf, the Institute of Technology

    Assessment, part of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Still, his systematic investi-gation of how computers and electronic networks are impacting science, particularly

    those facets related to scholarly communication and publishing, is extensive andinsightful.2

    The term cyberinfrastructure is primarily rooted in initiatives based in the UnitedStates and was seriously launched as an idea and source for funding by the National

    Science Foundation (NSF) in 2003 in what has become known as the Atkins Report(2003), entitled Revolutionizing Science and Engineering Through Cyberinfrastruc-ture. This title reflects the promotional and visionary language present throughout

    the document: A new age has dawned (p. 31), The time is ripe (p. 12), a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lead the revolution (p. 32). This language is coupled

    with a proposed annual budget in keeping with such promotional, public relationsstyle: one billion U.S. dollars.

    Basically, cyberinfrastructure refers to an infrastructure of distributed computer,information, and communication technologies. The development is seen as parallel to

    the infrastructures that already permeate modern societies: roads and railways fortransportation, water, gas, and power networks for basic services and resources. Inthe words of the Atkins Report, If infrastructure is required for an industrial economy,

    then. cyberinfrastructure is required for a knowledge economy (Atkins, 2003, p. 5).Not unsurprisingly, the first waves of cyberinfrastructure initiatives were situated

    in the natural and biological sciences, where large volumes of data are involved inresearch endeavors requiring high-speed computer processing: particle physics,

    astronomy, meteorology, and DNA research. These initiatives typically involvedcollaboration with staff at supercomputing research centers.

    The Atkins Report is not, to be sure, itself a scientific document, but a mani-festo. As such, it does not bother with conventional scholarly concerns such as

    qualification, criticism, and evidence. It can beand has beeneasily dismissedon those grounds, but Hine (2003) reminds us that such perfunctory discardingof visionary statements misses opportunity for a potentially valuable scholarly

    550 Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2007) 549562 2007 International Communication Association

  • enquiry into how these statements are translated into initiatives and, possibly, howsome changes in the scientific enterprise may be impacted by the ideas and funding

    related to such visions.Although it is too early and not the purpose of this introductory text to examine

    in detail the impact of the Atkins Report, it is fair to note that the concerns expressedin the document have found institutional and disciplinary resonance. The NSF hasestablished an Office of Cyberinfrastructure (http://www.nsf.gov/dir/index.jsp?org =

    OCI), suggesting a form of institutionalization. Various disciplines have establishedtheir own committees producing reports and initiatives to investigate ways to take

    advantage consciously of both the features and the funding being made availablefor cyberinfrastructure initiatives.3 These initiatives have not remained restricted to

    the natural and biological sciences, but the humanities and social sciences have alsoentered the arena. The American Council of Learned Societies, for example, issued

    a final draft report (http://www.acls.org/cyberinfrastructure/cyber.htm) on cyberin-frastructures for the humanities and social sciences in July 2006. Other effortsto integrate the social sciences are reflected in the introduction of social network

    analysis as a tool with which to study science communities.4 Further indicators ofinstitutionalization include initiatives to make the general public cyberinfrastruc-

    ture-minded, such as EPIC: Engaging People in Cyberinfrastructure5 and, arguably,many of the initiatives that have introduced Internet research and digital studies into

    university curricula and research programs.6

    The term selected as identifier for this JCMC theme section, e-science, primarily has

    grounding in initiatives emerging from Europe, particularly the United Kingdom. JohnTaylor, then Director General of the Office of Science and Technology in the U.K.,

    coined the term in 1999 at the launch of a major funding program. Like the U.S.cyberinfrastructure initiative, the focus was on the natural and biological sciences, andwas designed to process very large volumes of data with the aid of Grid computing

    networks. Similar euphoric statements about the transformation of the scientific enter-prise as those surrounding cyberinfrastructure discourse marked the launch and sub-

    sequent promotion of e-science.7 A National e-Science Centre (http://www.nesc.ac.uk/nesc/) was established in 2001, which has since become the primary vehicle for coor-

    dinating and allocating funding for e-science projects in the U.K. On the NeSC websitee-science is described and prediction of the future course of science is sketched:

    In the future, e-Science will refer to the large scale science that will increasingly becarried out through distributed global collaborations enabled by the Internet.

    Typically, a feature of such collaborative scientific enterprises is that they willrequire access to very large data collections, very large scale computing resources

    and high performance visualization back to the individual user scientists.

    In this description, as in many others, e-science is closely associated with Grid

    computer network architecture that enables much of the global collaboration con-sidered basic to e-science.8 These features are expected, in turn, to spur development

    of new, specialized Internet-based tools for conducting research.

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  • One of the developments in the U.K. that differs from the U.S. trajectory isinitiation of a government-sponsored office to stimulate and coordinate e-science

    in the social sciences. Called the National Centre for e-Social Science (http://www.ncess.ac.uk/) and launched in December 2004, it involves a decentralized struc-

    ture of nodes engaging universities across the U.K. Most of the projects funded sofar follow the e-science paradigm of Grid computer architecture, the one exceptionbeing the Oxford University node (http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/microsites/oess/

    index.cfm), which takes a social-shaping approach. Initially, 11 pilot projectsreceived support to explore the application of Grid technologies in the social sciences

    (Jankowski & Caldas, 2004). Although this U.K. initiative is impressive in scope, theprojects initially funded are predominantly technology oriented, particularly with

    regard to applications of Grid computer architecture. There are other approachesreceiving funding, as noted above, but these are in the minority and mainly relegated

    to a small grants scheme.Regarding e-science overall, efforts are underway to export the British

    approach to the rest of Europe.9 Some EU member states, however, have taken

    a different approach, as in the Netherlands where the term e-science is avoidedand preference given to e-research, which is seen as more reflective of the work

    of both social scientists and scholars in the humanities.10 The article in this issue byWouters and Beaulieu sketches this Dutch approach formally initiated in October

    2006 and called the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences(VKS; http://www.virtualknowledgestudio.nl/).

    Much more energy canand, in the coming years, undoubtedly willbeexpended on terminology. For the purposes of this collection, however, I am using

    e-science as the term embracing many of the features commonly associated with howscholarship is conducted in a network environment, utilizing Internet-based toolsand involving collaboration among scholars often separated by large distances on

    a global scale. These features, it is claimed, contribute added value to the scientificenterprise when combined. In list form, these features include:

    l International collaboration among researchers;l Increasing use of high-speed interconnected computers, applying Grid architec-

    ture;l Visualization of data;l Development of Internet-based tools and procedures;l Construction of virtual organizational structures for conducting research;l Electronic distribution and publication of findings.

    The combination of these features differs across disciplines and projects, and

    some scenarios of e-science are, as shown above, futuristic in tone and sense oftechnological inevitability.11 The articles in this collection represent one of the first

    rounds12 of social science reflection on this new vision of science. Not all of thesefeatures, it should be pointed out, are reflected in the articles in this issue; additional

    work, quite obviously, remains to be undertaken.

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  • Background to Call

    In the initial announcement for this collection I identified four areas as suitable for

    submissions, which reflected a clustering of the above-mentioned features:

    l Managing collaboration and communication among researchers separated by dis-tance;

    l Developing and using Internet-based tools for data collection, analysis, and visu-

    alization of findings;l Archiving and providing access to data;l Publishing and disseminating results.

    Although other topics and divisions are imaginable, these four identify the

    main areas of activity in e-science. In many respects, the transition between tradi-tional scientific endeavors to e-science is underway and often transpiring without

    awareness or particular concern. This was the case with a research project thatI helped coordinate in the period 2003-2006. Since that experience might be

    beneficial in understanding how features of e-science are becoming commonplaceand essentially transparent, I provide a sketch of the Internet & Elections Project

    below.The Internet & Elections Project (http://oase.uci.kun.nl/;jankow/elections/),

    conceived in 2003, was concerned with employment of websites by political actorsduring elections.13 The data collection for this cross-national study took place in2004-2005 and was based upon a common theoretical framework and a shared

    methodological approach in order to examine how online structures for politicalaction were developed by a variety of political actors during the two weeks preceding

    each election. Over 30 researchers collaborated to identify more than 5,000 websitesrelated to elections across Asia, Europe, and North America. Building on the expe-

    rience and methodological procedures and tools developed by WebArchivist (http://webarchivist.org), empirical projects were established around elections held in seven

    Asian countries, the U.S., and in 11 European countries participating in the 2004European Parliament election. Here, three aspects of the research design are pre-sented relevant to e-science: project management, data collection and analysis, and

    publication.Regarding project management, funding was secured to conduct a training

    workshop on the principles, procedures, and tools of the project, intended forresearchers studying elections in Asia and Europe. For team members unable to

    attend the workshop, special meetingsface-to-face and Internet-basedwere orga-nized. The Internet meetings included both synchronous chat sessions and asyn-

    chronous discussion lists. In addition, a help desk provided researchers opportunityto pose questions online via instant messaging and email during the data collection

    period.Regarding data collection and analysis, in particular during identification of

    websites related to the election under study, guidelines developed by WebArchivist

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  • were applied, which involved consulting search engines, politically-oriented portals,and other depositories of potential website addresses. All sites produced by political

    actors that seemed potentially relevant to the 2004 election were identified with thehelp of an Internet-based tool for this purpose. With this tool, basic elements of the

    site were recorded and, subsequently, samples from the identified sites were drawn.Once samples had been generated for each of the web spheres in the respectiveelections, members of country research teams coded the sites for the presence of

    more than a score of features. These sites were coded online, using an Internet-basedinstrument developed for that purpose. Afterwards, basic tables were generated from

    the master database and subsections of that database were distributed to the respec-tive country research teams for further analysis.

    Finally, regarding publication, the project followed procedures common in tra-ditional science, including preparation of conference papers, journal articles, and

    book chapters. In addition, members of the project prepared country reports on theelections studied that were available on a password-protected site. The manuscript ofthe book based on project research was completed in September 2006 (Kluver,

    Jankowski, Foot, & Schneider, forthcoming 2007) and is to be released as a conven-tional scholarly monograph.14

    In this project, the degree of international collaboration achieved would havebeen impossible without utilization of email and discussion lists for communication

    among the research teams situated around the world. The tools for site identificationand coding, available from a password-protected site maintained by colleagues in the

    U.S., provided the basis for generating data reliably and efficiently. In these respects,the project captures the promise of e-science. Still, problems were encountered on

    multiple occasions. To begin, technical limitations restricted Internet-based datacollection: The server to which codes of site features were to be uploaded provedincapable of handling the amount of traffic generated by more than a dozen coders

    working at the same time during the 2004 European Parliament election. As a stop-gap measure, some coders resorted to first coding the sites on paper and then later

    uploading the datain effect nullifying the primary advantage of online coding bygeographically distributed researchers. Regarding managing a virtual research orga-

    nization, substantial additional demands were placed on the project coordinators inmaintaining contact with team members stretching across Asia, Europe, and the

    United States. The sheer volume of email communicationsupplemented by tele-phone calls and conferences, discussion lists, instant messaging, and chat sessionswas enormous.

    One of the lessons that emerged from our experiences with e-science during thisproject underlined the importance of communication among team members, and

    that mediated forms of such communication require supplement with face-to-facecontact in order to establish a basis of trust for collaboration. Although this "wis-

    dom" may sound banal and obvious to those with experience working within orstudying collaboratories, for us as novices to this feature of e-science, the realization

    was profound. Speaking more generally, we also came to feel that the organizational

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  • infrastructure required by e-science initiatives may be, in fact, more important thanthe Internet-based tools for data collection and analysis.

    Overview of Articles

    With this personal experience as a backdrop, I would now like to highlight thecontributions selected for this thematic collection. Although these contributions,

    taken as a whole, cover much ground, they obviously do not address all issues relatedto e-science, and attention may sometimes seem out of balance. There is perhaps

    excessive emphasis on aspects related to distant collaboration and, at the same time,limited consideration regarding other topics such as archiving, visual representation,

    and data mapping techniques. These and other concerns with e-science merit atten-tion in future collections.

    The articles in the collection are organized around three central themes: concep-tual concerns, researcher collaboration, and issues related to research project fea-tures. Finally, two articles relate experiences with specific projects; these are

    appropriately considered separately as case studies of e-science.

    Conceptual Concerns

    Three articles deal primarily with conceptually situating e-science initiatives. The

    first, prepared by Ralph Schroeder and Jenny Fry, presents an overview of conceptsand issues, entitled Social Science and e-Science: Mapping Disciplinary

    Approaches. The authors focus on those initiatives involving high levels of com-puting, which is the emphasis usually placed on cyberinfrastructure and e-science

    conceptualizations. They also address mainly initiatives in the natural sciences, leav-ing the social sciences and humanities for other efforts. With these restrictions inplace, Schroeder and Fry construct a typology portraying issues related to the study

    of e-science from social science perspectives. This typology provides a frameworkfrom which a range of areas for research are identified.

    Nathan Bos and colleagues, all affiliated with the Science of Collaboratories(SOC; http://www.scienceofcollaboratories.org/) project based at the University of

    Michigan, construct a taxonomy of collaboratives in their article entitled FromShared Databases to Communities of Practice. The typology identifies seven types

    of collaboratories and is based on a review of more than 200 projects involvingdistant collaboration among researchers. Although this typology does not reflectthe frequency of the different types of collaboratories presented, it does provide

    a theoretical overview. Examples of each type are profiled in the article, and theauthors use this information to suggest a number of dimensions relevant to the types.

    This work is based on examination of collaboratories operating in the U.S.; one areafor extension of this study, as suggested by the authors, is examination of the

    collaboratories situated in other regions such as the European Union.Paul Wouters and Anne Beaulieu sketch development of an initiative designed

    to stimulate features of e-science in the social sciences and humanities in the

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  • Netherlands, called the Virtual Knowledge Studio. They argue for adoption of a moregeneral and amenable term to activities undertaken in the humanities, e-research,

    and propose reducing emphasis on Grid computing as the central feature. Perhapsthe authors main concern involves incorporation of an interventionist strategy in

    the initiative with, at the same time, an approach that emphasizes critical study ofscience innovations. Although a classic issue in the social sciences and often formu-lated in terms of scientific objectivity, Wouters and Beaulieu situate the concern

    within present-day initiatives by governments regarding e-science and, in the pro-cess, profile an alternative to the approach of other national efforts at launching e-

    science initiatives.

    Researcher Collaboration

    Jeremy Birnholtz and Daniel Horn explore the role of remote researchers in experi-

    ments involving large-scale and expensive equipment used for simulating earth-quakes in civil engineering laboratories. In general, preference is given to beingthere at the site of these experiments, and the authors extensively document the

    rationales for this preference among a wide range of persons involved in theseundertakings. By way of conclusion, the authors explore possible contributions that

    researchers-at-a-distance might make to such experiments, some of which may beapplicable to experimental work in other disciplines involving off-site researchers.

    John Walsh and Nancy Maloney examine the characteristics of collaborationacross research teams in four disciplines: experimental biology, mathematics, phys-

    ics, and sociology. A factor analysis suggests two categories of problems: thoseassociated with coordination and those related to cultural difference and security.

    Further analysis identifies several issues, like size and distance, related to difficultiesin coordination. Problems related to culture and security are especially present inlarge groups of collaborators, particularly when, among other things, competition is

    prominent. Walsh and Maloney suggest extending this study through longitudinalinvestigation, which would alleviate uncertainty about the direction of those rela-

    tions found.R. Sooryamoorthy and Wesley Shrum explore collaboration among scientists in

    South Africa, particularly the role email communication may have in this feature ofe-science. They find a positive correlation between email use and collaboration, but

    not with regard to the number of resulting publications. Further, they find noevidence suggesting publishing benefits from international forms of collaboration.Although these findings are limited to members of the scholarly community within

    one developing country and are based on a single survey, they do suggest, within thatcontext, that collaboration via email does not have a uniform and positive impact on


    Research Project Features

    Christine Hine, in an article entitled Connective ethnography for exploration of

    e-science, details how features of e-science are being introduced in the biological

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  • subdiscipline known as systematics. Through ethnographic investigation, Hineexplores the procedures and practices that are taken up by members of this sub-

    discipline as digitalization of specimen collections emerges. The particular form ofethnography that Hine undertakes, termed connective ethnography, moves between

    online and offline arenas in which the biologists work. Hine suggests that thisconnective approach might be a useful strategy for ethnographies of other e-scienceinitiatives, providing illustrations of change in disciplinary identities, institutional

    structures, and policy orientations as the move is made from traditional to e-sciencepractices.

    One of the central features of e-science involves managing large bodies of dataand making them available to other researchers. Samuelle Carlson and Ben Anderson

    consider how complicated this seemingly basic feature is through examination offour case studies involving different forms and kinds of data. Entitled What are

    data: The many kinds of data and their implications for data re-use, the articleconsiders a project with a large-scale survey data set, one with digitized records ofhundreds of thousands of artefacts and photographs, an anthropological team study

    with digitized fieldnotes and other forms of documentation, and a dataset of astro-nomical observations compiled by a dozen academic partners. One of the issues

    emerging from the comparison is the differing degree in the four cases to whichdocumenting and processing of data is considered mandatory before suitable for

    access by other scholars.Dan L. Burk explores one of the crucial non-technical concerns of e-science,

    ownership and control, and focuses on the legal aspects of intellectual property.Drawing fromMertons (1973) classical conceptualization of researchers as members

    of a scientific community, Burk reviews the components of this position in relationto e-science initiatives and aspects of open source. He concludes by voicing reser-vations regarding the suitability of copyleft and other licensing systems to creation of

    the idealized community of scholars posed byMerton and propagated by proponentsof e-science.

    Case Studies of e-Science

    Bridgette Wessels and Max Craglia focus on one feature of e-science, application of

    Grid computer technology, within one of the pilot demonstrator projects for e-socialscience in the U.K. This project addresses the classical concern in criminology withgeographical variations in crime patterns and the relation between individuals and

    living environments. One of the aspects that makes this project special is utilizationof very large data sets to examine the resulting patterns. Achieving that aspect

    involved considerable in-house training, computer expertise, and unique solutionsto problems encountered. Although some of the difficulties encountered may have

    been related to the relatively early period in the development of Grid technology, theexperiences remain valuable to possibly guide the monitoring of future Grid appli-

    cations in social science settings.

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  • Finally, Frank Pappas and Fred Volk report on the development of a projectinvolving features of e-science intended for museum educators associated with the

    Smithsonian Institute. This project is at a preliminary stage and, as such, concen-trates on the preparatory phases for implementation of a system allowing collabo-

    ration among museum personnel separated by large distances. The overall objectiveof the project is to provide input for evaluation of museum services. Achievement ofthis objective involves preparation and training of personnel for data collection,

    reporting, and dissemination of findings. The authors reflect on these challengesand suggest that the experiences may be applicable to other cultural institutions

    concerned with accountability.

    Further Investigation of e-Science

    With the above sketch of the specific contributions to the theme section as backdrop,I now would like to offer a few general remarks regarding e-science. To begin, it isvery much early days in understanding this phenomenon. The number of studies

    in the form of conference papers and journal articles is limited, and there are buta few book-length treatments presently available (e.g., Hine, 2006; Nentwich, 2003;

    Olson, Zimmerman, & Bos, forthcoming 2007). In this sense, the articles in this issueof JCMC are performing pioneering functions and inevitably reflect the exploratory

    character of early scholarship.This character is complemented in each of the articles by specific suggestions for

    further research; these will be welcomed by colleagues concerned with exploring e-science empirically. There is not, however, an overall research agenda in the articles or

    in this introduction to the collection; it may not even be possible to formulate such fora development as diverse and disciplinary distinct as reflected within e-science.15 Still, Iwould like to suggest a number of general aspects, conceptual and methodological,

    that merit consideration during further exploration of the development of e-science.To begin, contextual and disciplinary differences are considerable, and it is

    important to address these in further work. For scholars versed in the diffusion ofinnovations, it may sound as a base truism to note that adoption of innovations is

    not usually uniform across cultures and locales, and that the intended uses andimpacts can be radically different from what is expected by the developers of the

    innovations.16 So it may well become with the take-up of the features of e-science asthey are adoptedand modifiedby scholars far removed from the first wave ofapplications. If nothing else, further investigation is essential around this take-up

    and modification of e-science features across all fields of scholarship: the natural andlife sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

    Implicit in the above recommendation is the need for longitudinal investigation;the rate of take-up will undoubtedly differ from situation to situation, and under-

    standing the context and factors contributing to adoption is important. Awareness ofthe temporal dimension should, however, extend beyond conventional longitudinal

    research designs and include historical contextualization of the adoption process.

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  • This aspect is well illustrated in Hines examination in this collection as to how thebiological discipline of systematics, with a history and reputation of conservatism, is

    approaching digitalization of collections of specimens.Equally implicit in the previous remarks is the need for awareness that adoption

    of an innovation, in this case features of e-science, involves an active audience, asformulated in communication studies (e.g., Clarke, 2000) and more generally knownas social shaping of technology (e.g., Williams & Edge, 1996). Debate surrounding

    the tension and relation of this last notion with technological determinism (Smith &Marx, 2001) is a Pandoras box that best remains shut in these final paragraphs.

    Suffice it to say that a critical and agnostic stance is recommended when exploringthe causal relation between a technological set of innovations, such as those reflected

    in e-science, and the context in which they emerge, such as a particular scholarlydiscipline.

    As a final remark, the importance of national political and economic objectives inthe development of e-science is difficult to overemphasize. Generally, e-science ini-tiatives have been payrolled by government agencies, largely to assure competitive

    advantage in scientific developments. These incentives create tension, if not conflict,with some of the e-science features stressing international collaboration among

    scholars. How this tension between e-science as an instrument for national economicstrategy and e-science as the conduit for global scholarly collaboration plays out is

    a theme of much importance.


    I wish to thank JCMC editor Susan Herring for her encouragement and advice atvarious stages in the development of this special theme section. A large number of thecontributions were presented at a one-day pre-conference workshop held during the

    Second International Conference on e-Social Science in Manchester, England, in June2006; this face-to-face encounter provided valuable opportunity for discussion of the

    manuscripts. Ralph Schroeder and I organized this workshop, and both of us aregrateful for the collegial and critical spirit present at the event. More than a score of

    reviewers contributed assessments of manuscript drafts, anonymously and with nomore reward or remuneration than a thank you from the guest editor. Although

    muchmore is merited, another expression of appreciation is appropriate here. Finally,this introductory text was presented to members of the Virtual Knowledge Studio inAmsterdam at an in-house seminar. The ensuing discussion provided inspiration for

    what I hope is an improved version; my thanks to these co-located colleagues.


    1 The term e-science sometimes refers to electronic science, but the variant

    enhanced science more specifically relates to Internet-enhanced or

    cyberinfrastructure-enhanced science. The genealogy of these and other terms was

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  • sketched in a keynote address (http://www.nees.org/About_NEES/Announcements/

    presentations/NEESWorldForum/Keynote-Intro/Atkins/NEES3-17-06.pdf) by Daniel

    Atkins, held at the Network for Earthquake Simulation (NEES) World Forum in March


    2 A review has been prepared by Wilson (2004).

    3 One of these initiatives is called CTWatch, Cyberinfrastructure Technology Watch

    (http://www.ctwatch.org/), and strives to engage the science and engineering research

    community in the news, ideas, and information surrounding the emergence of cyber-

    infrastructure as the essential foundation for advanced scientific inquiry. Another

    initiative goes by the handle CI Outreach (http://www.ci-outreach.org/), Empowering

    People to use Cyberinstrastructure Resources, and is concerned with soliciting and

    supporting the education, training, and outreach needs of the scientific research

    projects within the cyberinfrastructure community, targeting underrepresented groups

    such as women, minorities and the disabled.

    4 See description of workshop Social Networks and Cyberinfrastructure (SNAC; http://


    5 See the EPIC site (http://www.eotepic.org/), where the goal is described as creating

    awareness of the opportunities afforded through cyberinfrastruture (CI) and by edu-

    cating and training a diverse group of people in all stages of life from K-12 to pro-

    fessional practice to fully participate in the CI community as developers, users, and


    6 For an overview of the Internet and academia, see Price and Nissembaum (2003), in

    particular the chapter on communication studies and the Internet (Jankowski, et al.,

    2003). A recent indicator of similar intent was announced by MIT and the University of

    Southhampton in November 2006 to establish the Web Science Research Initiative

    (WSRI; http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2006/wsri.html).

    7 On the NeSC website some of these statements may still be found. A quote from Taylor

    on the page where e-science is defined (http://www.nesc.ac.uk/nesc/define.html)

    illustrates such visionary style: e-Science will change the dynamic of the way science is


    8 A vast literature on Grid computer architecture is emerging, but the basic metaphorical

    description of the Grid relates the development to other already-in-place systems of

    services, like the grid providing electricity for households. Foster (2003) and Buyya and

    Venugopal (2005) provide accessible introductions, as does the Wikipedia entry for

    Grid computing.

    9 This endeavor is evident in establishment of an e-Science Envoy who also is director

    of the U.K. e-Science Institute. A recent presentation by this envoy, entitled e-Science:

    Foundations for the European Citizen, was delivered in Barcelona in September 2006


    10 Humanists are not adverse to some of the features associated with e-science; on the

    contrary, much work has been undertaken, particularly related to digital archiving and

    visualization of collections, and associations have been established; see, for example, the

    overview provided on the website for the Society for Digital Humanities (http://


    11 The call for contributions to the First International Conference on e-Social Science

    (http://www.ncess.ac.uk/events/conference/2005/) held in June 2005, illustrates the

    560 Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2007) 549562 2007 International Communication Association

  • optimistic stance towards e-science: Beyond enhancing existing research methods,

    however, e-Social Science also brings with it the prospect of articulating a radically

    new research agenda and encouraging the formation of new forms of research


    12 Another first round of contributions to this literature is reflected in the anthology

    prepared by Hine (2006). Many of the papers prepared for the NCeSS conferences also

    merit inclusion in any list of such critical reflections. And, the Science of Collabora-

    tories project at the University of Michigan has a book scheduled for publication in

    2007 (Olson, Zimmerman, & Bos, forthcoming 2007).

    13 Further information on the Internet & Elections Project is available at an early site of

    the initiative (http://oase.uci.kun.nl/%7Ejankow/elections/).

    14 At a presentation about the Internet & Elections Project, held in November 2006 at the

    launch of the Virtual Knowledge Studio, one of the participants in the subsequent

    discussion asked why such a traditional mode of publication was chosen for a project

    otherwise reflecting innovative e-science features. My response, somewhat flippant, was

    that many of the contributors were up for tenure and needed publications on their CVs

    reflective of quality scholarship published in a traditional fashion. Such institutional

    pressure can, in fact, be considered the primary deterrent to web-based innovations in

    scholarly publication, at least in the social sciences.

    15 Woolgar (n.d.) and Woolgar and Coopmans (2006) have prepared a series of questions

    relevant to examination of the uptake of e-social science, a smaller slice of e-science.

    Although valuable, these initiatives do not constitute a systematic agenda for enquiry.

    16 Although it goes beyond the scope of this text to elaborate on this point, several

    extended bibliographies on the diffusion of innovations are available, including one

    prepared by the NASA Headquarters Library (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/hqlibrary/



    Atkins, D. E., Droegemeier, K. K., Feldman, S. I., Garcia-Molina, H., Klein, M. L., & Messina,

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    the National Science Foundation Blue-Ribbon Advisory Panel on Cyberinfrastructure.

    Washington, DC: National Science Foundation. Retrieved November 13, 2006 from


    Buyya, R., & Venugopal, S. (2005). A gentle introduction to Grid computing and

    technologies. CSI Communications, 29(1), 919.

    Clarke, D. (2000). The active pursuit of active viewers: Directions in audience research.

    Canadian Journal of Communication, 25 (1). Retrieved December 19, 2006 from http://


    Hine, C. (2003, September). Systematics as cyberscience: The role of ICTs in the working

    practices of taxonomy. Paper presented at Oxford Internet Institute Information,

    Communication & Society symposium, University of Oxford. Retrieved November 13,

    2006 from http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/pdfs/hine_oii.pdf

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  • Jankowski, N., & Caldas, A. (2004, November). e-Science: Principles, projects and possibilities

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    Communicatiewetenschap [Day of Communication Science], University of Twente, the


    Jankowski, N., Jones, S., Howard, P., Foot, K., Mansell, R., Schneider, S., & Silverstone, R.

    (2003). The Internet and communication studies. In M. Price & H. Nissenbaum (Eds.)

    The Internet and the Academy (pp. 168195). New York: Peter Lang.

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    Woolgar, S. (n.d.). Social shaping perspectives on e-science and e-social science: The case for

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    About the Author

    Nicholas W. Jankowski is Visiting Fellow at the Virtual Knowledge Studio for theHumanities and Social Sciences. He has served as Visiting Fellow at Oxford InternetInstitute and as Associate Professor at Radboud University Nijmegen. Jankowski has

    been involved in the investigation of new media since the 1970s and recently co-edited The Internet and National Elections: A Comparative Study of Web Campaigning

    (with R. Kluver, K. Foot, and S. Schneider). Jankowski is co-editor of New Media &Society.

    Address: Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences,Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    562 Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 12 (2007) 549562 2007 International Communication Association


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