Open research

The increasing power of personal computers and Internet give scientists an example of how to jump the system in computing

© Fernando Caracena 2012

The big science of our time creates big organizations, and major laboratories. Bigness fosters the bureaucracy of directors, sub directors, branch chiefs and team leaders. Bigness adds constraints to a scientist's life that saps the scientist's leisure, which is required to do his best work. It is a wonder that science can happen in big organizations. Perhaps it happens because scientists are so well disciplined and self-driven that they work full shifts after hours to make science happen despite the encumbrances. The rapid development of computers (doubling in power every eleven months) and information technology will give scientists much getter and cheaper access to research facilities thereby increasing the power and speed of scientists' thought. The most creative environment for scientists is in small groups, small science rather than big science.

In the 1980s, computers were rather large and expensive, therefore subject to the constraints of bigness associated with large institutions. To use the computer, a scientist had to have an account approved by administrators, usually paid for by outside contract funds. Computing was a serious business and expensive;  only those considered serious users by the organization needed to apply. The computer user did not feel free to explore--unless he were a kid. [Steve Jobs was a kid who gained access to the big machines, and later the first desktop computer. The experience he gained as a kid allowed him to go on to do great things in directing Apple Computers.]



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