Reflections from Lithuania on Science Networking
I. Status in Lithuania
The LPS has signed the Physics Network Charter in 2001. The Charter announced to the LPS members.
The "Penetration depth" of internet usage in Lithuania is 21% (as per June 2002), 13.6% of population use internet at least once a week. Majority of growth (from 11% in June 2001) is due to young people - pupils and students. A "rule of thumb": 1/2 of them need / will need to study physics. That would constitute ~300,000 people, with the number growing up to ~1,500,000 in the whole country. To start giving them something from national experts in physics, the web pages of the LPS have been started in 1997.
The contents of the national "Lithuanian Journal of Physics" is of immediate scientific interest. 40-odd years of publishing, in Russian and translated into English, then - in English only.
The recent scientific publications data is being collected on a larger scale as part of the government-supported projects of management of the higher education and science ("Navision", SAP, "PeopleSoft"). Access policies unclear.
Another voluntary project is "Environmental Physics" (a national journal) on the web. Just started, at publisher's initiative, as a probing ground for web-fan students.
~10 universities and state research institutions are offering physics-based web content. ~6 private hi-tech companies produce items needed in physics research, have web pages and offer jobs for physicists.
The web pages of the Lithuanian Union of Scientists based at the Science and Technology Park use the Harvest system!
II. Comments on PhysNet (please correct me)
Various providers, various content and different access rights.
PhysNet is here to provide high-level physics content to the people working in or just studying physics, free of charge, on a devise-and-share basis on the world-wide scale.
We like this openness very much and have committed ourselves to support it. We understand that metadata is needed for fast discrimination between different content in the era of a World-Wide Wastebasket ;-). Probably the Internet2 - an alternative internet for science and studies in the USA - is worth accepting as well.
A big task / problem is in being able to access the information initially presented in a non-well known language to the user (e.g. Lithuanian or Russian). Although some search engines seem to offer translation, I doubt their skills yet.
Some useful "information" is still a bit overlooked by the PhysNet (Charter). That is the popular physics and funny physics that really attracts to further serious studies, and more, is an element raising the public awareness of science and stimulating intellectual activity in general.
One more niche for PhysNet is, I feel, a pre-print service as a quick means of communicating new ideas and achievements to our peers physicists. And post-print, too: the feature articles from the "Europhysics News", from the Nobel Foundation pages could be summoned for pedagogical purposes.
III. Expansion (problematic and questionable)
So, I would propose several directions of PhysNet improvement:
Some of the ideas stem from my work on the homepages of the Lithuanian Physical Society (www.itpa.lt/LFD/), some have emerged just upon the (superficial) acquaintancee with PhysNet and this workshop. I am happy to share them with you, thank you for listening.