The response to the first few days of open source cognitive science has been gratifying. There are fascinating problems and technical challenges in this area. It is a treat to be able to think about them together with interested colleagues.
Cognitive science could benefit by more fully adopting some of the existing forms of openness:
- Open access, where publications are made available on the web without charge (cognitive scientist Stevan Harnad is a champion, with CogPrints being cognitive science’s answer to the Physics pre-print arXiv).
- Open courseware is a movement that invites educators to make their course-material directly available on the web. (An example is Tutus Vilis’ completely Flash animated course, The Physiology of the Senses—Transformations for Perception and Action)
- Open source hardware and software, where plans for apparatus and tools for analysis are made freely and openly available (Praat, for example, is a GNU GPL licensed signal analysis package which can be used for analyzing speech, generating auditory stimuli, and doing speech synthesis).
- Open stimuli, where stimulus sets or corpi are made available for use in replications or new experiments (See the Psychological Image Collection at Stirling (PICS (http://pics.psych.stir.ac.uk/)), or the Irvine Phonotactic Online Dictionary (Vaden, Hickok, and Halpin (2005))).
- Open workflows, in which researchers can freely share chains of experimentation, analysis, and visualization. (Talkoot is a collaborative workflow initiative for Earth Science. A quick search of the workflow custom search engine on Google reveals no workflows in the cognitive sciences).
- Open data, where individual researchers release their datasets, either as the data is collected, upon publication, or after a suitable embargo period. (An example with a rich dataset would be The Linguistic Atlas of the Iberian Peninsula (ALPI)).
- Open model repositories, where computational models from published papers can be centralized. (ISPOC is an open modelling initiative which includes cognitive models).
- Open research, where open lab notebooks are used to describe ongoing details of a particular strain of research.
Cognitive science can include up to six areas of research (psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, computer science, philosophy, and sometimes anthropology). One could visualize an 8×6 matrix serving as a preliminary grid for exploration.
Did I miss anything? Other great examples? Your thoughts are welcome.
Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David (2009). Praat: doing phonetics by computer (Version 5.1.11) [Computer program]. Retrieved August 3rd, 2009, from http://www.praat.org/.
Vaden, K.I., Hickok, G.S., & Halpin, H.R. (2005). Irvine Phonotactic Online Dictionary, Version 1.3. [Data file]. Available from http://www.iphod.com.