The Globalization of Science—Observed
How have new information and communication technologies changed interpersonal relationships? For the past two decades--owing to nothing more than pure luck--we have sought to understand whether social interaction has "gone global."
In 1994 the Dutch government funded a survey that focused on the social networks of educational and academic institutions in three low income countries: Ghana, Kenya and the Indian state of Kerala. Soon, we realized we have the only existing baseline on the planet for a face to face survey of the effects of the Internet on social relationships.
The World Science Project was started in 1992 with a grant from the Dutch government through an organization called RAWOO, the Advisory Committee for Scientific Research for Development Problems. They were interested in applying a social network approach (originally developed in the US in 1980) to learn something systematic about researchers (educators, scientists) in low income countries in Africa and Asia. Specifically, we were curious as to whether scientists in developing countries were ‘isolated’ as most had assumed. In retrospect, the answer should have been obvious: to be poorly or sporadically connected to others in the US, Europe, and developed areas does not mean you are isolated! The scientists in our 1994 study were well connected–but to their own local networks.