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Science

YouTube for Science? 96

Shipud writes "The National Science Foundation, Public Library of Science and the San Diego Supercomputing Center have partnered to set up what can best be described as a "YouTube for scientists", SciVee". Scientists can upload their research papers, accompanied by a video where they describe the work in the form of a short lecture, accompanied by a presentation. The formulaic, technical style of scientific writing, the heavy jargonization and the need for careful elaboration often renders reading papers a laborious effort. SciVee's creators hope that that the appeal of a video or audio explanation of paper will make it easier for others to more quickly grasp the concepts of a paper and make it more digestible both to colleagues and to the general public."
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YouTube for Science?

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  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:18AM (#20285927) Journal
    I think these online video sites are great, and the specialisation/professionalisation of the genre only makes sense as the field matures.

    One of my faves is fora.tv [www.fora.tv] which has lots of really good lectures and readings. A lot of it is from CSPAN, but I like CSPAN, so I'm not one to complain.

    This kind of refinement in the online video space is a great great thing, and as online advertising increases in value (At the expense of broadcast advertising dollars) these kinds of websites will have greater and greater viability and from there, increased depth of programming.

    Some websites have tried to do this in an entertainment sphere, and for the most part, aren't realy doing too well - audience expectations are high and the material presented is often iffy in quality. OF course, that changing, slowly - better stuff is arriving, but there needs to be filtering systems. Things like the site in TFA and fora.tv are just such filters.

    This is a very exciting time for online video!

    Now, if we can only keep the bandwidth up before it all chokes itself to death...

    RS

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OECD ( 639690 )

      This kind of refinement in the online video space is a great great thing

      I don't know. In the case of scientific papers, yes it probably is. But a great deal of the appeal of youtube is the ability to stumble onto things that you didn't know existed (via the 'related videos' links in particular.) If there was a separate site for Japanese game shows, or Harry Potter rap, my life would be a little bit poorer.

    • by Xiaran ( 836924 )
      If I had mod points Id mod you up. Id never seen fora.tv and poking around on it I suspect Ill have hours of fun on it. Thank you very much.
    • by nadahlman ( 255850 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @10:08PM (#20289487)
      Scientific presentations can easily fall into a certain formula that excludes the lay audience and may bore even the initiated. This presentation [youtube.com] brilliantly demonstrates the issue. It could be said that the opportunity to publicize is already out there; presenters may have to focus more on making the concept accessible and interesting, perhaps along the lines of a shorter, more thorough Radio Lab [wnyc.org].
      • Well, I think the point of this site is not to reach out to the unwashed masses of laypeople; Rather it is to reach other academics in the field or to reach professionals who want to put new discoveries into practice (engineers / industry).

        I think the video site is trying to capitalize the fact that author presented seminars on papers can provide a more efficient transfer of the new idea than just reading the paper does. The problem is, seminars are interactive... When someone doesn't understand a point,

  • Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:20AM (#20285935)
    This sounds like a good idea.

    I personally work on a digital hologram printer, and wouldn't mind recording a short video describing how it works etc.

    Here's an example hologram that I've done: (Yes, I'm a KDE developer as well. It's the KDE dragon, konqi.)

    http://img267.imageshack.us/my.php?image=pict0044s mallernk5.jpg [imageshack.us]

    (Excuse the mess of my room)
  • Very, very cool! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:21AM (#20285947)
    I'm sure the likes of Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan and other proponents of accurate popularization of science would have applauded this approach. I'm also sure there's going to be some major stumbling blocks along the way - but this is just the kind of adventure that I see as healthy for the public interaction with science. Go science!

    Ryan Fenton
    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:26AM (#20285971)
      Won't be long until something like "www.idtv.org" or (given the way the Feds are funding Christian groups these days) maybe "www.creationtv.gov" comes along to try and counteract the dissemination of accurate science to the population.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nametaken ( 610866 )
        That's the nice part about the internet, I have to want to go to a website.

        I just don't like the idea of my tax dollars paying for it. :(

        • That's the nice part about the internet, I have to want to go to a website.
          The not-so-nice part is that this applies to other people, too. ;) Those who need the exposure to popularized science the most are those least likely to seek it out.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ScrewMaster ( 602015 )
            Maybe someone with some bucks should pay for click-through "ads" that have messages like "DID YOU KNOW that Evolution doesn't claim to know how life originated on Earth? No? Click here for more info!" or "Creationism is an untestable hypothesis, not a scientific Theory. Do you want to know more?" or maybe "Science is not in the God business. Why should God be in Science's business?" I'm sure you folks can think of a bunch more good teasers to bring in the undecided. Could even make some money for sites that
    • Scientific papers today are not understandable by laypeople. To take an extreme, mathematics papers are not understandable by other mathematicians in an unrelated field. Hence for the public to benefit there needs to be what PLoS biology does with most (all?) of their papers: provide a nontechnical summary.

      Currently, scivee.tv only has videos that would be of interest to people that know quite a bit about the topic already (example: Structural Evolution of the Protein Kinase-Like Superfamily).

      The videos als
      • by hubie ( 108345 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @12:22PM (#20286329)

        This doesn't look like a site targeted at the layman. It seems to be a site targeted at the scientific community to help disseminate research results to other scientists. I think this is a great idea. Basically the majority of scientific papers that are written only have their abstracts, intros, conclusions, and figures read until it is determined that the paper is of great interest, then the nitty-gritty details are read. This allows researchers to quickly get the gist of papers to determine which ones they want to read in detail. It would also help the scientific journalist to quickly understand the big picture of a particular recent topic.

        Since the videos are targeted at other scientists and engineers, I wouldn't expect too much polish. It would not surprise me if it gets used by company PR departments or researchers on the fringe to promote their ideas (and in which case I would expect pretty slick presentations) because I suspect posting a video on this site would carry more weight than just posting it on YouTube.

        • by reason ( 39714 )
          As a scientist, I can't see myself using it much, if at all. It's so much quicker to read an abstract. I read 50-100 abstracts each week to keep up with my field. If each video was 5 minutes, it'd take 8 hours a week to get the same information. And that would be 8 hours a week of my own time, because although I'm expected to keep up with the literature, it's not something I can log my time against.
      • I'm really quite new to scientific papers. I'm currently writting my first.

        But it does seem that every few years there is a "summarising paper" which summarises, simply, what has been happening across the field in fairly simple language.

        Maybe this is just a once-off in my field though.
    • You forgot James Burke!
      • Burke is cool, but better described as a historian: teasing out plausible tales of causality and coincidence.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DinZy ( 513280 )
      Too bad there is no channel for any physical science. This is Biology/medicineTV not science TV
    • At you hit the nail on the head without even realizing it;
       
      Preparing reasonably accurate, easily digested science popularization isn't easy. Making it easily available [via a youtube clone] won't change that.
    • It is a fantastic idea but I just looked over the site and I see only biology/medicine related videos. No math/physics/chemistry/computation, etc. Is that deliberate or just a matter of time since it's so new?
  • Yes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by astonish ( 177831 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:32AM (#20286001)
    As someone who works in academia I really believe research is crying for something like this. You hear that anecdotal stat that the average published paper (conference or journal) is read ONCE. There is so much information out there that is going unused and with so much research going on getting out there in an easy to access and digestible format is key.

    Any system that makes academic papers more digestible is a benefit for three reasons:

    1) Researchers. Youtube like social networking amongst peers can boost awareness of research and give researchers a better sense of the "field" to dig into when doing background research allowing them to find relevant works quickly. It also does the opposite allowing them to spark others interest in their work so it doesn't get retired to the shelf. Even when reading papers in your own field understanding complex methods and results can sometimes be hard to digest if unclear writing is involved. A video (mainly of the researcher explaining things in their own spoken words) is worth a thousand words.

    2) Business. Putting businesses in touch with research and programs relevant to them. This is a win/win. Companies get information that betters their products and services and hopefully in return they provide much needed research dollars to those doing the work.

    3) The general public. Keeping the general public in the loop is important for countless reasons. Two of them being it lets them see where there tax research dollars are going and why they should support such funding and also because hopefully it will inspire people to take interest in the goings on of higher education and ward of general stupidity. It always brightens my day to see science videos of cool physics research or psychology tricks littered in with sports highlights and comedy clips. Even if it only raises peoples awareness slightly I think its worth it.
    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )
      A video (mainly of the researcher explaining things in their own spoken words) is worth a thousand words.

      Something doesn't seem quite right here.
    • Re:Yes! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @03:53PM (#20287537) Homepage
      If the average paper is only read once, it is because
      - in some places it is the quantity of papers produced that counts and not the quality
      - because they are not published in open websites where they can be indexed by search engines.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I disagree with the notion that even shallow, awareness-raising videos is beneficial. (I think such video would be harmful because research is nuanced.) To be beneficial, the videos must be more than attractive promo shorts for papers--they must be a way to see the heart of the paper as well as the nuances (such as the actual data, and the methods used). They must be content-heavy (even if that content is made attractive) because, otherwise, one must pay journal or database fees to see the nuances that will
    • by lukesl ( 555535 )
      The idea that each published paper is read only once is absurd. How many papers have you read, and how many have you written? I read at least 100 papers for every paper I publish, and I don't think I'm unusual in that regard.
  • It looks like it's only for biologists, from the journals they're taking papers from. Ones you pay to get published in. Huh?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jstomel ( 985001 )
      It currently only takes papers from the PLOS family of journals. Most of the PLOS journals have a biological bent because they were started by a group of Biologists/Biochemists at UC Berkley and their editorial staff is mostly biology centric. PLOS One is a general subject journal and accepts publications from any field of science. You pay to publish in PLOS journals because they are open access. PLOS does not sell subscriptions or charge for access to articles, instead it charges authors a small fee (f
  • by cluge ( 114877 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @12:25PM (#20286345) Homepage
    I think the idea is interesting, and a good way for people publishing papers to help a peer review group understand what they are looking at, but at the same time the quote The formulaic, technical style of scientific writing, the heavy jargonization and the need for careful elaboration often renders reading papers a laborious effort. struck me. Scientific method has always been the fundamental difference between science, fact, and belief. What I've found over the years is that there is more bad science in peer reviewed papers now than there was. In this day of the word processor and CYA get funded politics, there is a lot more to read, but less meat on the bone (so to speak). That being said there is still a LOT of good science going on, and I wouldn't step back to the days of carbon paper and typewriters for a second. For example - When I taught physics, drawing a conclusion from a graph or statistical results, but failing to provide an equation or the work or all of the data that one used to come up to such a conclusion resulted in a failing grade. Period. Yet peer reviewed articles by Mann [technologyreview.com], or the recent GISS fiasco [geotimes.org] point to a failure of peer review. These articles should have never made it to print.

    Video and Audio presentations should go with each paper to a reviewing publication if it helps reviewers and laymen. More importantly the reviewers need to be able to remember their primary motivation. To be skeptical in the name of science.

    cluge

    • For example - When I taught physics, drawing a conclusion from a graph or statistical results, but failing to provide an equation or the work or all of the data that one used to come up to such a conclusion resulted in a failing grade. Period.

      Did you teach me physics? Seriously though, what's the point of this principle, to prevent cheating? I understand the need to include the unanalyzed data, but why do I have to explain relatively simple things, especially to my physics professor? Example: If I have

      • but why do I have to explain relatively simple things, especially to my physics professor?
        Because you weren't supposed to be practicing writing papers to your instructors, you were supposed to be practicing writing papers to people who would learn something from them.
  • Paper Format (Score:3, Interesting)

    by D.A. Zollinger ( 549301 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @12:37PM (#20286407) Homepage Journal
    There is a reason why research papers take the format that they take - to make it easy to locate the pertinent information that another researcher is trying to find. Most readers will be interested in the results section of a paper - where significant findings are listed. If the findings seem too good to be true, you might read the methodologies section to see how the researcher validated their study tools and to see if the methods used to arriving at their conclusions are suspect. If you are a layman to the field of study or you want to see what literature directed the researcher to this research question, you might be interested in reading the background section of the paper. If you found the topic interesting, and want to continue this line of questioning, you would read the discussions section to learn interesting aspects about what the researcher would do differently had they the opportunity to do the research over again or to perform the research again in the future. A lot of the discussion section might pertain to how they might change their methodology, or change their survey instrument in order to increase the return of relevant data.

    Now, having said all of that, I do think that a site which offers video presentations of papers would be a more interesting way of learning information. In acadamia, a lot of professors and researchers are expected to become involved in their area of research, which means that they perform research, present research, and attend presentations of other researchers. In many areas you could attend presentations almost every day of the week. While this is encouraged, it does take up valuable time, and many in acadamia have to be selective about which presentations would be most valuable to attend, as presentations take more time than would reading the relevant portions of the paper. Finally, I have seen enough awful presentations to realize that just because the information is presented in another format does not mean that the author has become any less dry.
  • ...EPrints [eprints.org] but more geared towards the video aspect. It's great to see more and more ways for Scientists to get their research out there and in the public sphere!
  • I mean, scientists aren't exactly known for there ability to explain things well. So, will having uncomfortable people /attempting/ an explanation help? And how exactly does having a video of someone *speaking* the jargon help with the problem of the jargon in the first place? Quite frankly, I find it asinine to complain about jargon when the target audience is people that will understand it anyway.

    Also, there's that nasty question of peer review. I know that there are many papers from crackpots that en
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jstomel ( 985001 )
      This is a misconception. While many scientists may not be good a making small talk at parties, we are paid lecturers you know. You don't teach to a class of freshmen and present at meetings six times a year without learning a thing or two about public speaking. Within the narrow confines of explaining their research, scientists can be very eloquent. It helps that this site is aimed at a technical to semi-technical audience. And as for peer review, SciVee only accepts submissions from well respected pee
  • ...lots of dull-as-fuck clips of suburban 14-year-olds smashing up "fully working" pipettes and bunsen burners?
  • This new way of learning is amazing. What a great way for everyone to gain more knowledge.
  • last time i checked the majority of the public didn't "believe" in science.
  • People waste thousands of dollars every year going to conferences, etc. And then they have to sit through presentations whether they want to or not because, well, they've already paid for it. And then, the conference is only once a year. And then, not everything gets accepted (which is a good thing, mostly, but some decent papers don't get accepted either).

    Personally, I think researchers owe it to yourselves to buy a decent HD camera (Canon HV20, for example) and a piece of software that will encode their v
    • by reason ( 39714 )
      That way I can view the "dense" parts several times and ask better questions through email, which is crucial for understanding.

      Or you could read the dense parts of a paper several times, and ask questions through email. Wouldn't that be easier?
      • by melted ( 227442 )
        Papers sometimes don't explain things well enough. A lot of them are written to meet the acceptance bar for the conference. So even if the idea is simple, it'll be buried under a mountain of (often unnecessary) math and funky notations. When presenting papers, however, researchers tend to explain things as simply as possible so that the audience understands them better.
        • by reason ( 39714 )
          A lot of them are written to meet the acceptance bar for the conference.

          For conference papers, sure. Most conference papers are never read anyway. They exist merely to fill in some of the details that a speaker won't have time to cover in a 15-minute seminar at the conference. Good journals have a much higher bar, so I stick with journal papers.

          When giving seminars, researchers explain things simply, but leave out important details and much of the discussion, either because there simply isn't time or bec
  • My brother just sent me links to really interesting set of documentaries that put into perspective the rise of Islamic terrorism, NeoCon world domination ideas and actions [google.com], Game Theory in politics and everyday life [google.com] etc.T
  • I think it's a good idea with one major caveat - when they setup their site, they must provide no way of posting semi-anonymous comments to videos.

    I mean, just imagine doing this on YouTube. People would watch the video and be educated. Then they'd glance down at the comments and instantly become retarded. I believe that personally, I have lost at least 30 IQ points from accidentally reading YouTube comments.

    It would be naive to assume that the same people won't shamble over to the new site and drool all ov
  • by locster ( 1140121 ) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @03:04PM (#20287225)
    I always find it interesting that some really simple concepts that could probably be understood by a child become completely unfathomable when presented in mathematical form. I've read papers that are describing techniques that I myself have implemented and yet still not recognised what was being described. This is a nice idea but what I would really like to see is plain english explanations of a concept alongside the maths, which I accept is necessary because English is after all ambiguous and inefficient at describing mathematical formulea or concepts. But that doesn't mean it can't be used to paint the big picture before filling in the detail.

    I suppose part of the problem is the terminology used in research papers. You get groups of researchers in specialisations that use terminology that only they know, because they have developed it in their own little corner of the research world. You can end up with a newcomer to a field writing a perfectly good paper, but because s/he didn't use the now accepted proper terminology the paper is not understood by the people it is actually targeting.

    Also sometimes I get the feeling that people are writing papers with impenetrable terminology to make themselves feel clever. The more big words the better. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

    • I always find it interesting that some really simple concepts that could probably be understood by a child become completely unfathomable when presented in mathematical form.

      Like? Is the children's description precise and general enough to be used mathematically?

      I've read papers that are describing techniques that I myself have implemented and yet still not recognised what was being described.

      There are many ways to describe concepts, even mathematically. Some are more general than others. Some are more a
    • by 4D6963 ( 933028 )

      I always find it interesting that some really simple concepts that could probably be understood by a child become completely unfathomable when presented in mathematical form.

      Ditto. The simplest algorithms look so complicated once written as a mathematical formula, it's getting quite problematic when you're trying to implement something not so complicated but that the documentation about it requires a BA of some sort to be deciphered, my point being that the formal way algorithms are described in papers an

    • Also sometimes I get the feeling that people are writing papers with impenetrable terminology to make themselves feel clever. The more big words the better. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

      You are precisely correct about the original purpose of the academic style of writing. However, if everyone now writes like this, it's hard to feel clever relative to other scientists simply by writing in this way. This style of writing is perpetuated because it has become the standard and it would be difficult fo

  • I, personally, cannot wait for Kirk Cameron to post to the site a research paper that is a companion to his video [youtube.com]!
  • For the last ~year my biology teacher has been using youtube to show us what happens in the body, it works well too, we see everthing from live cells actively dividing by mitosis, to a video of a the carbon cycle. Really, I didn't think it was too uncommon, its such an obvious idea for a use of this service- and all of the content is already there.
  • It sounds like this would be similar to poster talks you already get at conventions, although you can't ask questions in real-time.
  • It's most definitely a good idea.

    I wonder of they got the good idea from http://sciencehack.com/ [sciencehack.com]

    Oh well, the more the merrier. Perhaps the new one will have videos from talks given. Not the nifty graphics oriented demonstration-type stuff, but that kind of stuff has been accumulating and not being used.
  • to politics. So now the accepted science will be that presented by the most photogenic scientists.
  • Great. Instead of papers that are dry, stale, full of technical jargon and can only be understood by someone else who works in that particular sub-speciality, we will have video presentations which are dry, stale, full of technical jargon, and can only be understood by someone else who works in that particular sub-speciality.
  • The Journal of Visualized Experiments [jove.com] has been in operation for a while and is awesome. There are several Science YouTube sites. I want want one that is geared toward organic synthesis and materials synthesis.
  • SciVee's creators hope that that the appeal of a video or audio explanation of paper will make it easier for others to more quickly grasp the concepts of a paper and make it more digestible both to colleagues and to the general public."
    Or, people might just stop reading papers because they're a total bore!
  • Traditional peer-reviewed journals online:
    - text online. Check
    - supplementaries including text, audio, video, whatever. Check.

    There is no need for the "new" site.

    More important is to have an effective system of rating of papers. Traditional peer-reviewed system is prone to favoritism.

    There was a site with 1000 experts in different sciences reviewing regularly papers. That is another way.

    Applying digg system to science directly probably won't work.
  • SciVee (Score:3, Informative)

    by kbahey ( 102895 ) on Monday August 20, 2007 @03:06AM (#20290757) Homepage
    How timely.

    A friend blogged about SciVee [scivee.tv] which is intended to be Youtube for scientists.

    And it runs on Drupal [drupal.org].
  • We are running a http://videolectures.net/ [videolectures.net] science video site with over 2500 science videos and presentations mostly related to Computer Science, Machine Learning, Data Mining, Semantic Web, etc.

    If you click it right now, please also check http://videolectures.net/site/live/ [videolectures.net] where live webcast of the Machine Learning Summer School which is going on right now (http://www.mlss.cc/tuebingen07/ [www.mlss.cc]).

    And please don't put it on the slashdot front page (i.e. slashdot-it) just jet, because the server probably won't

  • Sweet! Shaky, blurry videos of hot postdoc chicks making out over a soundtrack of "White and Nerdy"
  • They think its solely a recreational sight, yet science papers and products I wish to buy are increasingly putting things there. My company is one of the Fortune 100, but the management is backwards.
  • It's the San Diego Supercomputer Center (http://www.sdsc.edu/ [sdsc.edu]), not the San Diego Supercomputing Center.

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