One of the announcements came from Gary Goodyear, Canadian Minister for Science and Technology. It concerns ConnexScience.ca, a newly started HUB hosted by the Canadian Science and Technology Museums Corporation (CSTMC, a government corporation). (UPDATE 10/29 – Frogheart, as I should have expected, has posted on this as well.)
The idea, according to the website, is:
“Our vision is for the hub to serve as a focal point for the many diverse activities and organizations involved in science, engineering and technology in Canada. We want the hub to be “owned” by a broad cross-section of the Canadian science, technology and engineering community. Our role is to create the digital conditions that will support the hub in becoming a living, thriving online community.”
Based on my attendance at last year’s Canadian Science Policy Conference, an effort like this could well fill a need for more communication within science and science policy circles across the country. A very large country with a comparatively small population, networking is not going to be as easy as it might be in the United States, where people who would benefit from hearing what others are doing in science and science policy stand a better chance of going to the same meetings or otherwise being in the same place.
That said, an online collaborative space is a fair amount of work. Otherwise you just have yet another discussion board (or, heaven forbid, a group blog).
CSTMC is not being aspirational when it writes about wanting the HUB (if this is supposed to be an acronym, I don’t know the translation) to be ‘owned’ by a broad variety of stakeholders. It’s concerned with the growth and survival of the HUB. People not only have to want a collaborative space, but they need to be willing to put in the effort and follow through. And if stakeholders want the HUB to facilitate action in addition to collaboration and connection, those people supporting the space will need to be even more active and engaged online. None of this is unique to Canada, or to science and technology policy. Making an online space that is meant to stand for at least part of traditional networking and collaboration requires a bit more work, unless you’re more comfortable and functional online than you are offline.
So, CSTMC and all the other stakeholders in the Pan-Canadian science and technology communities – good luck. If you manage to make this work, you’ll have something we in the States don’t. Our little disciplinary silos are just so large that it seems like we do a fabulous job connecting with our colleagues in our broader community.