Pathways of Discovery

The Quickening of Science Communication

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Science  14 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5477, pp. 259-264
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5477.259

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In this month's essay, Robert Lucky examines the central sociological impacts that communications technologies have had on the way science is done as well as the critical influences science has had in the evolution of communications technology. He traces the evolution of today's infrastructure for research and collaboration in science via the Internet and the World Wide Web back to the invention of the telegraph, which first freed the flow of information from its reliance on the physical means of transportation and allowed communication to occur in real time. According to Lucky, the remaining technical hurdles in providing unlimited bandwidth are relatively simple to overcome compared with the sociotechnical engineering required to improve the three dimensions of communications--human to information, human to human, and human to computer.