I’m excited to be returning to my open roots, as well as continuing to push the boundaries of what “digital research” can and should look like, and further explore how we can make the web work for science.
Openness, empowerment and disruption are baked into Mozilla’s DNA. Their belief in the power of the open web and drive to explore new ways the technology can transform is inspiring. They truly believe that we all should be able to innovate in the digital world, regardless of your level of technical proficiency – that we should be able to be more than passive consumers. This is incredibly important for science, especially as we grapple with a daunting skills gap at the university level that is, in many cases, disincentivising researchers to participate, to innovate, or even in some cases, continue to do science.
Mozilla cares deeply about “digital literacy”, and it’s time we explore what that means for science, especially given discussion about the “skills gap” in funding circles and at the policy level. I started to unpack this a bit back in January in a piece on Radar – teasing out some of the core competencies I think we’re neglecting in basic science education. We’ll be discussing that more here on the blog in the coming weeks, as well.
The first member of my team is Greg Wilson, founder of Software Carpentry, a program that teaches basic computational literacy to researchers to help them be more productive. I’ve long admired Greg’s work in this space, in providing an entry point for students to learn things like version control, data management, basic scripting. In the last year alone, they’ve run over 70 events for more than 2,200 attendees – all led by volunteers – and are on track to double both numbers in the coming twelve months. More importantly, Software Carpentry is our first step in exploring what “digital literacy” ought to be for researchers and what they need to know to actually do it.
We also want to find ways of supporting and innovating with the research community – building bridges between projects, running experiments of our own, and building community. We have an initial idea of where to start, but want to start an open dialogue to figure out together how to best do that, and where we can be of most value.
I’ll be writing more here on the blog in the coming months as we ramp up development of the program (hint: we have some cool stuff planned. ;) ). Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks about how you can get involved. You can also check out our wireframe here at wiki.mozilla.org/ScienceLab or follow us @MozillaScience.