Collaboration, big ideas, and scientists

The word scientist was first uttered at a meeting of natural philosophers in 1833. This, of course, postdates Isaac Newton, Galileo and Francis Bacon.

"Scientist" was proposed modeled upon "artist," because, if philosophers ask what questions and answers mean, natural philosophers would be armchair thinkers, discussing the world around us. If an artist performs art, a scientist performs science. Seems like a logical move.

I've been fairly reclusive this winter. Another five-month stretch of gray weather coupled with a job I work from home means I have to manufacture reasons to leave the house, apart from going to the grocery store and letting the dog out.

Last night I went to the CNY blogger get-together and actually spoke to both friends and strangers.

Now, I collaborate with a team of people at work each night. We chat about who's doing what and we edit each other's work. Sometimes the conversation degrades into methods for cooking salmon. Well, maybe that's a rising of the conversation, not a degradation of it. I have a fiance and some friends I speak to regularly.

But as for a collaboration that leads to a mapping of the world's tides or creating a mechanical calculator, I don't have that group of breakfast mates. Except that I do. We don't have to all be around a table to have big ideas, though I guess it couldn't hurt.

Laura Snyder, who gives that talk at the top of the page, makes a quip that if we could lay off Twitter and Facebook, we'd get some real work accomplished. I don't think that's true. Social networks are powerful collaboration tools – if we use them as such.

Let's put forth some big ideas, then. Let's collaborate. If you're local and want to talk over coffee, let's do that; if you're not, we can tweet or email or whatever to exchange those big ideas. Let's change the world, even if it's an armchair discussion about what our questions and answers mean, because that's important, too.


One Response to “Collaboration, big ideas, and scientists”

  1. Interesting post, one I can easily identify with. At least you still have some people to collaborate with; I spend almost all of my time alone, even when I’ve got a nice contract to work on. That’s why social media helps my mind and gives me folks to talk to here and there. Could I get more done without it? I’m not sure; after all, if I accomplished more but didn’t have anyone or any way to tell people about it then what would the point be?
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