Re: NodeNet: how not to scare away experts

Michael Nielsen (
Fri, 5 Jun 1998 21:21:10 -0600 (MDT)

On Fri, 5 Jun 1998, Alex Future Bokov wrote:

> On Thu, 4 Jun 1998, Michael Nielsen wrote:
> > I'm curious as to how you plan to attract experts to use the nodes. Why
> > should they use ExI's system when other perfectly good systems exist? I
> > know many of my own most productive research discussions with other
> > people involved in quantum computing go on in email; sometimes quite a
> > large group of researchers is involved in a single discussion. What would I
> > gain from using ExI's system over this system of discussion?
> You probably wouldn't use it instead of your normal professional channels,
> but rather in addition. Here are a couple of ways it might benefit you:
> 1. If this goes the route of propogating certain messages to other nodes
> that may be interested, you get improved interdisciplinary sharing of
> ideas.

That is a good point. Implementation may be tough. To be effective,
this will require a lot of work by NodeMasters in order to ensure that
the quantity and level of interdisciplinary communication is
appropriate, along with some oversight to ensure that the NodeMasters are
doing their jobs properly.

> 2. You get to talk to lay-persons who have the sort of interest in your
> work that is all too rare among the general public, while at the same time
> talking to colleagues.

"At the same time" is not necessarily a good idea. Separate forums may
be appropriate. To pick just one example which I am quite familiar with,
the sci.physics.* Usenet groups tend to be fairly useless for physics.
This is because, ironically, many of the better informed posters seem to
spend their time helping out the inexperienced, while discussion of
"advanced topics" is dominated by enthusiastic but poorly informed people.

For this reason, I believe that some sort of stratification is
necessary if the system is to be attract usage by innovators.

> 3. You get to set the record straight. What gets passed off as "science
> reporting" on TV and in the papers these days is really inadequate as a
> conduit between the lab and the living room.

As the Boston Globe example shows. Let me also add that the New Scientist
link about quantum teleportation posted recently was woefully misleading.
Anything NodeNet can do to improve this link would be great!

I will make a few related suggestions about NodeNet in my reply to Sarah's

Michael Nielsen

"I know the answer! The answer lies within the heart of all mankind!
The answer is twelve? I think I'm in the wrong building."
- Charles Schulz