Over at the open-science mailing list at okfn.org, Michael Nielsen just posted a great “informal” definition of open science:
Open science is the idea that scientific knowledge of all kinds should be openly shared as early as is practical in the discovery process.
The discussion on the list has been very interesting, but that particular “informal” definition is great because it gets at why we’re struggling with established social norms in science given the new technological methods of communicating results:
…when the journal system was developed in the 17th and 18th centuries it was an excellent example of open science. The journals are perhaps the most open system for the dissemination of knowledge that can be constructed — if you’re working with 17th century technology. But, of course, today we can do a lot better.