This ability to collaborate quickly and transparently online is just one facet of a growing movement in research known as open science. There are many interpretations of what open science means, with different motivations across different disciplines. Some are driven by the backlash against corporate-funded science, with its profit-driven research agenda. Others are internet radicals who take the "information wants to be free" slogan literally. Others want to make important discoveries more likely to happen. But for all their differences, the ambition remains roughly the same: to try and revolutionise the way research is performed by unlocking it and making it more public.
"What we try to do is get people to organise differently," says Joseph Jackson, the organiser of the Open Science Summit, a meeting of advocates that was held for the first time last summer at the University of California, Berkeley. Spurred on by the new-found ability to work outside the system, these rebel biologists believe that the traditional way of doing science is not the most efficient and could even be holding back important developments. "Institutions, typically, are the slowest and have the most amount of inertia lagging behind the technology," says Jackson. "We have a lot of things that made sense once, or never made sense, that are clogging up the works."