Tuesday, January 05, 2010

World Is Open-- UCLA Summer Digs Blog is Closed--4

Curt Bonk's, The World is Open, begins with an interesting and exciting story about the way in which web can bring science into the lives of many people outside of universities. The example is the UCLA Summer Digs program.

Bonk highlights a number of articles in the UCLA magazine about this project and writes,
"The Summer Digs Project is also a virtual apprenticeship for thousands or perhaps millions of online Web surfers....It is quite plausible that many people stumbling on their blog posts from Chile or Peru a few years, decades, or even centuries from now might become energized by them..." (p. 4)
Whoops.... if you click on the UCLA Summer digs, you get the message "this blog content is no longer available." This is a reminder that the Web content is fragile and that it isn't always reliable and engaging.

It is not clear what happened to this content or why it is no longer available. You can find a blog about a current UCLA archaeological dig in Egypt... but it seems less inspiring than Bonk's description. For one, there is no mechanism to comment or ask questions to the students or faculty. It looks like there are 5 posts over the course of the fall semester. Nice, interesting, but not exactly inspiring.

None of this means that Bonk is not correct that the Web creates the opportunity to bring the scientific discovery process into new places and engage new people. I have described Folding@Home" as an example of this type of work, but the disappearance of this blog and the limitations of its current Web presence reminds us that this type of learning is very much a work in progress and not well understood.

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