Scientific American reports on Science 2.0, the use of social media among scientists doing active research. The article is actually a draft slated for publication inseveral months - and you are invited to help edit the final version. It's a good article, reporting all points of view regarding open source science, and I'd encourage you to read it. But I wanted to share this quote about how science, indeed, how discovery, proceeds.
The technologies of Web 2.0 open up a much richer dialog, says Bill Hooker, a postdoctoral cancer researcher at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland, Ore., and the author of a three-part survey of open-science efforts in the group blog, 3 Quarks Daily. 'To me, opening up my lab notebook means giving people a window into what I'm doing every day. That's an immense leap forward in clarity. In a paper, I can see what you've done. But I don't know how many things you tried that didn’t work. It's those little details that become clear with open notebook, but are obscured by every other communication mechanism we have. It makes science more efficient.' That jump in efficiency, in turn, could have huge payoffs for society, in everything from faster drug development to greater national competitiveness (emphasis supplied).
A quick search of the Public Library of Science On-Line Edition (PLOS One), which was referenced in the article, also suggested another significant reason for doing science out in the open. Currently, the ties between science and science funding are not adequately reported.