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[side note] Physics dissertations

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 12:05:43 -0500
Message-Id: <200103141644.LAA6266655@smtp2.mail.iamworld.net>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

While to those of us not in the habit of reading doctoral dissertations in
Physics, writing a dissertation and writing for the Web may see reasonably
separate things, this is definitely not the vision of the U.S. National
Science Foundation who underwrite a lot of Physics research.

Tim Berners-Lee initially conceived of the Web as a basis for communication
among scholars doing advanced research.  At CERN, a Physics research facility.

The National Science Foundation requires that the grant recipients of their
Partnerships in Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) grants
dedicate some of the money to Education, Outreach and Training (EOT)
activities.  They are investing in advancing the state of Web technology
precisely because they believe that running scholarly communication over
the Internet gives knowledge a global reach and a more encyclopedic
audience than traditional paper publishing.  And they are testing their
advanced technologies in educational settings because if they aren't
shortening the knowledge dissemination cycle, they aren't doing their job.
Publishing scientific results to the Web accelerates the production of new
knowledge, and so that is how the NSF wants scientific scholarship to be
conducted.

One of the strong levers that they are seeking ways to pull is to use the
immense connectivity of the Internet to shorten the cycle time from
laboratory discovery to mass market products to common public knowledge.
This is viewed as a major economic driving factor.  If each writer in the
food chain by which new knowledge is disseminated down to the primary
school curriculum were able to reach just a 30% broader audience, as
measured in reading level band, we could take whole steps out of the
multi-step dumb-down process and take multiple years out of what is today
often a twenty year process or longer.

So even 'though new Physics knowledge at the Ph.D. dissertation level can't
necessarily be written at the seventh grade level in the first instance, a
sensitivity to the reading-level demands you are placing on your audience
is important for people writing about new discoveries in Physics.  It's not
just the editors of Nature and Scientific American who need to worry about
this.  It is everyone who touches the stuff, starting with the innovating
researcher.  At least, EOT is an integral part of PACI because the NSF
believes this. 

Al

Ref: http://www.eot.org/
Received on Wednesday, 14 March 2001 11:44:48 GMT

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