Yesterday, I talked with Dr Alexandra Freeman (twitter), the creator of Octopus - a platform for publishing scientific work openly, that encourages collaboration and meritocracy.
Her goal with Octopus is quite similar to that of Unfold Research, in a sense that we are both trying to fix the first-order problems that academics face and how by doing that, you actually get an opportunity to fix many other, higher-order issues. The main components of the Octopus and Unfold are quite similar (but we both took a slightly different approaches): strictly defined content types and ability to link them between each other, and the rating system.
She wrote on the main website and on the Octopus blog the reasons why Octopus exists, how it tries to fix the problems and why she took the approach that she did.
We talked about hurdles and traps that exist while working on projects in scholarly communication, the sensitivity of the system to the potential of abuse, challenges of bridging the gap between highly technical and more average users, seeding the content of such platforms, lack of funding for such innovative projects and the overall lack of innovation,...
It was a very interesting and useful talk, that sadly mostly confirmed my own fears about difficulty of working on such projects. However, it was really motivating to hear someone else equally excited and frustrated enough to be working on solutions to the problems that are present. Hopefully, more of such new ideas will get the chance of being realized and tested in the wilderness, and there will be a brighter future after all.
Go check out Octopus, they are currently in beta and are looking for feedback.
Big thanks to Dr. Freeman for taking the time and openly discussing our ideas.