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ASCA selective dissemination system

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Big science and how things are changing
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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Big science is here to stay. Where are you, how’re you going to do things like the Manhattan Project, or NASA, or the Human Genome, or other things like that without big science? It’s, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be room for original ideas that individuals have. It’s hard for me to imagine that stopping. And it’s hard to say whether, how much an individual need to have expensive equipment or other things that permit you to make new, interesting discoveries. I don’t know what that one main fact would be, but I suspect you, you’d be able to, with the access to knowledge being what it’s going to be, whether free, or slightly paid, I can’t imagine it being all that expensive to come up with information, so originality will, will certainly come up.

[Q] The technological infrastructure now is so vastly improved. I mean, the methodologies, the techniques which we see...

To what extent is it going to be – what’s the word I want? – you know, I can use a TV set by turning it on and doing very simple things, but some of the complexities of using some of the stuff on the internet, and, and just using my, my PC, it seems to me, it’s getting to be, in some senses, overwhelming. I mean, I, maybe it’s because I’m, my generation, it’s gone beyond me. But I, I just find there’s so many new twists and turns that you’ve got to learn. But, the only solution for me, as I’ve just said, I call my assistant in and I say, solve this problem for me, I don’t want to have to figure out why this thing is telling me it won’t do it, or it will do it, you know. Or, or ISI’s email system rejects this message and won’t let you do that. I mean, it’s just unbelievable, the things that you’ve got to keep track of, when other people don’t seem to mind that. It’s unbelievable the number of, and then if you change anything, you’re going to go from Windows, what is the number I have on Windows 99 or 98, and I go to Vista, and then you find out you can’t use this, if you’ve gone through the norm. It’s just... all that is maddening. I just find it, because I just don’t want to have to learn all that in order to use it. So they’re going to have to make it, you know, with your car, you don’t have to really learn how the damn computer in the car works, right? But you’ve got to be able to afford to take it somewhere to somebody who can figure it out, you know? But, just... just the number of things that happen on a PC are incredible. So, it’s not surprising that people have made a big business out of, what do they call it? The geeks? There’s a huge success of a new business called The Geek Squad. I know who to call to get help, but if I didn’t know these people, I would have to go to something like that. You know, you’d probably wind up having your computer serviced by some guy in India who’s doing it. As a matter of fact, when we were calling, I went to visit a friend who’s PC got disconnected from... she couldn’t get on her AOL account, and she didn’t know how to deal with it, because her, her computer is hooked up to her telephone line, so in order to get the AOL, her phone’s got to work, okay? Now, if she calls, she can’t use her phone to call AOL, because she can’t get onto AOL. So, I said can’t you find a friend who’s got a cell phone to call AOL? So, when I got down there, and went to visit – this is an old, old friend of mine; her name’s Anne Geary. I don’t know if you’ve heard me talk about her – we got there, we called, we called AOL on the phone, and we were talking to some guy in India for over an hour! And he couldn’t figure out what was wrong, because what was happening is that it turned out that they assume that the modem in the computer is not working, and therefore not linking to AOL. Now, how could you, how can any ordinary person figure that out, you know? There’s nothing on the damn computer that says your modem isn’t working; you’ve got to be pretty technically savvy to figure out what the hell to do. So, they call in The Geek Squad, the guys who... you’re better off... her computer’s 10 years old, so I said, go to the damn, the, not Circuit City, but the place where you buy, I think she got it through some place called Computer... Computer World, or whatever it was. Go down there and get this damn thing, and trade it in; they’ll just junk it. And get yourself another computer; it’ll be cheaper than trying to fix your modem on that one, you know. That’s another subject – we’re living in a throw-away world, right? So, and she’ll probably, for one-fifth of what you paid for the original computer, she’ll probably get a, a 10GB computer now, for less than the $500, something like that. But all that technological stuff is why I can’t, I, I tried to get my sister to come on email. She refuses, she will not try to get, to have her own personal computer that we can email. Even though she worked in an office and knew how to use a PC in the office, but she doesn’t want to have to deal with the problems of email and, and getting her own computer and being helped out. I did manage to get her to accept the answering machine, so when you call her phone. And I also bought her a cellphone. Just gave it to her. Now she uses it. So, that’s what you’ve got to do sometimes to get them information systems, you’ve got to just stuff it down their throats.

Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) was an American scientist and publisher. In 1960 Garfield set up the Institute for Scientific Information which produced, among many other things, the Science Citation Index and fulfilled his dream of a multidisciplinary citation index. The impact of this is incalculable: without Garfield’s pioneering work, the field of scientometrics would have a very different landscape, and the study of scholarly communication would be considerably poorer.

Listeners: Henry Small

Henry Small is currently serving part-time as a research scientist at Thomson Reuters. He was formerly the director of research services and chief scientist. He received a joint PhD in chemistry and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin. He began his career as a historian of science at the American Institute of Physics' Center for History and Philosophy of Physics where he served as interim director until joining ISI (now Thomson Reuters) in 1972. He has published over 100 papers and book chapters on topics in citation analysis and the mapping of science. Dr Small is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, and past president of the International Society for Scientometrics and Infometrics. His current research interests include the use of co-citation contexts to understand the nature of inter-disciplinary versus intra-disciplinary science as revealed by science mapping.

Duration: 6 minutes, 56 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009