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Meritocracy Reconceptualized Meritocracy is an ideology. In essence it means advancement by merit. An age‐old philosophy, it was popularized by Michael Young as a system of government in which people rise to positions of political power by proven knowledge and ability. While a revered ideal, many argue that meritocracy today is a myth. We all have unequal socio‐ economic predispositions. Our electoral processes are driven by financial influence. And as Young forewarned us, standardized examination of merit has led to a self‐fulfilling disparity in our education systems. This conceptualization of Meritocracy has led to a dead‐ end argument, and it is time to revisit our assumptions. Merit does not govern people; it governs knowledge. Evaluating people based on merit is reductive. Evaluating knowledge based on merit is Science. Scientific PeerReview Today Science employs an impure Meritocracy manifested in the scientific peer review system. Scientists come up with ideas and write proposals for institutional approval and funding. They conduct their experiments, write up their reports, and submit their papers to publishers. The editor forwards the paper to 2‐4 anonymous, preregistered experts for review. Once necessary revisions are made, their papers are published and only then their work gains widespread exposure and opens doors for debates and new ideas. This process is designed to sift for the most meritable work, yet it’s riddled with counter‐ productivity. Too often subpar research passes into mainstream media. Conflicts of interest and consensus bias often go unaddressed, and middleman reinterpretations of research without bounds to self‐interest continue to cause dissonance in our practices. Scientists have to pay to get their work reviewed and published and this process can months, even years. They are neither compensated nor accredited for reviewing papers, creating a one‐ way anonymity that inevitably results in a publish‐or‐perish culture. Mass print and distribution takes a significant toll on our natural resources, which may be deemed largely unnecessary in the digital age. Online journal access can be prohibitively expensive for universities and research libraries, whose members rely on up‐to‐date knowledge in their fields. And the biggest injustice is that the public doesn’t have free access to scientific literature, 80% of which is funded by their tax dollars. Phrases like “experts say” or “studies show” distance readers from the source of knowledge and force to accept authoritative credibility as proof. This is an outdated system with ample demand and opportunity for reconfiguration and growth. Democratization and Socialization We used to experience a similar dilemma in the media. There was a time when the only news the public would receive were published in newspapers or reported on TV. Then the internet came along and brought two crucial changes to the media landscape. First, it created a peer‐to‐peer infrastructure and gave each user an equal opportunity to share – that’s democratization. Then people began having online identities and congregating in
groups of mutual interest – that’s socialization. Thanks to this revolution, we can now access an immense collection of news and media, contributed by millions of users worldwide, tagged and organized by topics of interest. The same tools that made this possible, can reveal a similar paradigm shift in the sciences. Democratized and socialized peer review is what I’d like to call a Cloud Review System. Cloud Review System Cloud Review System is a self‐regulating platform that connects scientists, businesses, and students based on shared fields of expertise. Scientists can publish their papers without time and cost barriers and retain full ownership of their work by virtue of submission. Scientific literature nests within the public domain and every paper is screened through the eye of the community. Since cloud review is inclusive of all peers of mutual expertise, consensus isn’t compartmentalized to a private editorial staff, but rather becomes a dynamic social force that continuously sifts for high caliber research. This creates an environment of scientific Darwinism where the fittest knowledge thrives. The reasons a paper must be reviewed apply to the reviews themselves. Scientists can evaluate papers and each others’ reviews, turning an anonymous pass‐or‐fail process to a fluid conversation about the merits of the subject at hand. Data is shared in open linked databases to provide proper evidence for a paper, in turn imposing suspicion on those who withhold data. With digital publication and open access, we can quantify the impact of a scientist’s paper and reputation based on variables unknown in print publications. Errors and frauds will be audited by the community at large, as well political and financial influences will be flagged duly. All knowledge shared through this portal is subject to evaluation by merit. Merit How do we define merit? Drawing inspiration from the Buddhist perspective, merit is qualified by three central tenets. For something to be meritable, it must be shared freely. The amount of activity it incites determines how cultivating it is, and it’s virtue, the object of peer‐review, is determined by cloud analytics. Semantic Content Evaluation Cloud Analytics considers 3 dimensions of knowledge for evaluation. Accuracy measures breadth, precision measures depth, and consensus illuminates scope, which is the range of perspectives on any particular topic. For any given scientific literature, accuracy examines the validity of its theory and claims. Precision gauges the efficacy of its methods and data. Consensus by vote determines the acceptance of the paper. A complete score on accuracy and precision identifies a viable solution; where it meets consensus is an ideal solution. The goal is to evaluate content
based on accuracy and precision, and seek to understand the interplay of different perspectives. Perspectivity Our ability to harness collective objectivity matures communities towards perspectivity. We can democratize and socialize the ways in which we make business and policy decisions based on cloud reviewed science. As scientists begin to operate in this circuit, we can integrate the business sector. The Business Sector Businesses provide market feedback loops. They come across challenges to overcome, seeking solutions that are well‐aligned and lucrative. They can supply the scientific community with field data and consumer reports that can help orient research trends. And they can forge direct partnerships with scientists to mobilize research to development, in turn accelerating the scientific process itself. Students Through this interaction between scientists and businesses, students reap the benefits. The growing bank of scientific literature will be an educational resource for students and teachers. Instead of just passively learning about the world to decide what discipline to follow down a career path, they can explore research trends and occupational personalities that can help prepare them for post‐grad life. This is a platform where they can engage directly with scientists and businesses through apprenticeships. Consulates Each scientist and business will have a consulate, their social constituency with internal channels of communication. A consulate is an extended work force, a think‐tank. Research drives business, business drives research. By systemizing this symbiosis in an open access network, we can create an entire job sector of scientific advisors, business ambassadors, and apprentices who source the cloud to find new connections and opportunities to cross‐ pollinate both domains. Consulates gain human capital across institutional and geographical boundaries, but more importantly, they provide experiential education for students. Quests In Meritocracy, there are 4 types of quests one may undertake. Already published papers can be uploaded for cloud review. A scientists can propose a research to call on interdisciplinary collaborations at the speed of social networks. Projects indicate single endeavors that are considered complete once their goals are achieved. And initiatives are plans to kick‐start a working entity with an on‐going mission. These efforts have one thing in common: they are pursuits of ideas with set objectives. Ideas have gravity; the greater the idea, the stronger its pull. In Meritocracy, cloud‐
reviewed knowledge in support of the idea and the will and ability of its social constituency determine an idea’s execution potential. The Interface The interface has the same fundamental structure for all 4 pages. You can upload a paper, or launch a new quest. The body of the work will accumulate on a wiki, edited and governed exclusively by the collaborators of the quest. Tailing the wiki will be forums that engage the greater community in the discussion. Each post will have a simple 3‐button interface. Metadata contains all the static information about a post. You can respond in a multitude of ways, or engage the material by sharing it on another social site, relaying it to another space, compiling a digest for special interest topics or exporting for offline reading. Technology by design enables behavior. We will have an open‐source library of plug‐ins and widgets that address the specific needs of each community and enable new ways we can respond and engage with content. Repositioning Stakeholders Meritocracy is not an overarching umbrella for all scientific research, but an infrastructure to build upon. It will be designed as a plug‐and‐play solution to integrate with dozens of other invaluable open science projects. The aim is to reposition all stakeholders in the process to create value for all. For scientists, this will be an open access repository of scientific literature. Students can engage in apprenticeships as formulated by each consulate, and perhaps this process of participatory education will evolve and integrate into various graduate and undergraduate programs. The public will have direct access to the source of knowledge and their assessed merits. We can assist in collecting data and generating ideas, overtime increasing our overall scientific literacy. Businesses and field professionals streamline their practices with science, turning everyday problems into opportunities for development. They provide tacit knowledge that’s imperceivable in a laboratory, like physicians’ observations of the effects of drugs on their patients. Media professionals and science writers report on these complex exchanges. They can create layman’s versions of papers that are linked to the original study with approval of the research collaborators, ensuring their texts aren’t misinterpreted or misused. Publishers are experienced evaluators. With an increased flow of literature due to the nature of open systems, they can cultivate their positions by offering subscription‐based digests, whose value lays in their resources and expertise to survey interdisciplinary opportunities and compile high impact papers, a task most individuals simply won’t have the time for on their own. Policy makers can leverage their advocacy based on cloud reviewed science, leading to better representation of different sides of increasingly controversial issues. And investors
will have a greater evidence‐base for deciding what research is worth investing in. The value proposition here for all stakeholders is collective knowledge as a common resource. Revenue Model Meritocracy presupposes knowledge as a public utility. If a group chooses to operate a private platform and make their knowledge inaccessible to the public at large, they will pay taxes. If a group figures out a way to monetize their platform, by a proprietary software plug‐in or some distinguished service, and charge their users, they will pay taxes. Otherwise, Meritocracy will be completely loyalty free for all. Call to Action We will employ an open‐source development approach from its nascent stages. In spirit of Meritocracy, I invite all stakeholders to join us in formulating the community’s needs, designing technical solutions, and shaping this idea’s evolution. Meritocracy will accumulate our collective knowledge on the cloud as a by‐product of these objective‐driven interactions. Decentralized communities will form around pursuits of powerful ideas. They will self‐maintain their cloud review systems, while the content shared on these platforms are indexed by research field on the cloud, as we incrementally chart out the architecture of the knowledge space. Meritocracy will be a central access portal to the cloud, on our grand quest to make knowledge common wealth of the people. Thank you. Musa Akbari firstname.lastname@example.org
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