Michael Nielsen has penned a very thoughtful essay on how the internet age will change how science is performed. Having sloppily dabbled in a website which allowed for rating of scientific papers, I think Michael’s observations about why “review” sites for scientific papers are a tough sell (what reward do I get for commenting on a paper, exactly?) are spot on. I also liked his comparison of science review sites and reviews of Pokemon products:
The contrast between the science comment sites and the success of the amazon.com reviews is stark. To pick just one example, you’ll find approximately 1500 reviews of Pokemon products at amazon.com, more than the total number of reviews on all the scientific comment sites I described above. The disincentives facing scientists have led to a ludicrous situation where popular culture is open enough that people feel comfortable writing Pokemon reviews, yet scientific culture is so closed that people will not publicly share their opinions of scientific papers. Some people find this contrast curious or amusing; I believe it signifies something seriously amiss with science, something we need to understand and change.