Facebook, scourge or savior? Love it or hate it, Facebook is pervasive and arguably pretty useful. Most recently though, the social network has made its way into the world of scientific research. Science mag recently published a story about a group of evolutionary biologists whose summer of research was saved by Facebook. These scientists had been collecting fishes in Guyana and ended up having only 24 hours to identify something like 5000 fish for export back to Toronto. To complete the 24h emergency identification of the fish before they got the boot from Guyana, the group posted a bunch of photos to Facebook so their friends around the world could help with the classification, and managed to pull through with help from their social network.
In your faces, F-Bo pessimists.
You can see some of the photos that I assume have been left on Facebook for posterity here.
Although this group didn’t really take it all the way, this is sort of an example of how putting your data out there can be of benefit. For more on the Open Science movement, check out Michael Nielsen’s talk at TedX Waterloo.
PS I had written this a month ago and forgotten about it until I heard the story retold by Canadian hiphopper cum radio personality, Rich Terfry (aka Buck 65) of CBC Radio2 Drive. Have a listen to the hiphop or the radio show if it suits you.