I’m really enjoying the book Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others and I strongly recommend it to any software developer out there but that’s not why I’m mentioning it here.
I’m doing it because it includes a comparison between professional scientists and software developers as a way to convince software developers not to work alone and instead join the open-source movement:
Professional science is supposed to be about the free and open exchange of information. But the desperate need to “publish or perish” and to compete for grants has had exactly the opposite effect. Great thinkkers don´t share ideas. They cling to them obsessively, do their research in private, hide all mistakes a long the path and then ultimately publish a paper making it osund like the whole process was effortless and obvious. And the results are often disastrous: they accidentally duplicated someone else´s work or made an undetected mistake early on … The amount of wasted time and effort is tragic
(and of wasted public money I’d add)
True, nothing really new here (I already touched on this same topic in the post: “Be honest, curing cancer is not your primary goal“) but it surprised me that the same perception was shared by people outside our community. I’d say this is a good thing, the more pressure we have to change the way research is done, the better.