I read Nielsen's new book cover to cover on my flights to / from an Open Access Week event in Tucson this week and I give it my strongest recommendation for a pleasurable read about a crucial topic. I am a scientist and my students and I practice open science as much as possible--open notebook science, open protocols, open data, open proposals, etc. I have also seen the author, Michael Nielsen speak a couple times, and I have read many of his blog posts. So, before reading this book I didn't necessarily expect to learn much or certainly to be further convinced of the possibility of transforming science in this new era. From the moment I started reading, though, I was captivated. Many of the stories were not new to me (such as Galaxy Zoo or the polymath project), but I hadn't heard them in such detail before and I enjoyed learning a lot more about those successful crowd- or citizen-science projects. There were also many success and failure stories in open or collaborative science that I hadn't known about, such as the Microsoft-sponsored "Kasparov versus the world" chess event, or the research into how small groups can make bad decisions if the collaborative conditions aren't set up correctly. I learned a lot from these new stories, and remained captivated throughout.
In any of the topics that I am deeply familiar with, such as the current reward system for academic scientists (peer-reviewed publications are gold), I can say that Nielsen is spot-on and insightful. He ties together well all of the stories and descriptions of the scientific process and by the end, I think he's done a great job of convincing us all of his main point: We have a tremendous opportunity to transform and multiply the power of scientific research in the coming decades. But it won't happen automatically and there are some attitudes and policies that need to be changed to ensure we achieve this revolution. Nielsen gives concrete specific solutions to the barriers to the revolution. Furthermore, he gives advice to all of us as to what we can do as individuals to promote a change in science. My students and I in our teaching and research labs have taken the leap towards open science, and it has been tremendously rewarding. So I encourage you to read this book and to take your own small steps towards transforming science, whether you're a scientist, a fan of science, or an interested supporter of science (taxpayer!).
I rate this book 5 stars. Incidentally, I almost rated it with 4 stars because I was so frustrated at the black and white photos that I desperately wanted to see in color when I was on the plane! I realize this is a cost issue, but DARN! I was able to cancel this negative factor by adding in a bonus star for a truly excellent job Nielsen does with sourcing his information. He does such a good job that you can even read the "notes" section and understand what he's talking about and learn further information beyond the text. Kudos to Nielsen for an excellent book!