I met Peter Sand a few months ago at a #Sensored meetup in SoMa. The setting was exactly like the hardware labs from my undergraduate engineering days, and Peter was there exactly like one of my buddies showing kits and circuits cobbled together to do science (except, Peter is quieter and more polite than most of my buddies). Peter founded ManyLabs, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that wants:
students of any age to become comfortable with data, scientific processes, and mathematical representations of the world. We want people to learn about the strengths and limitations of using math and data to address real-world problems.
Hmmmm… think about that for a minute. Peter is thinking really long-term. He wants to invest in kids today (although ManyLabs kits are suitable for and to be enjoyed by anyone of any age) so they become good at using math and data in the future. Now, that is my kind of guy.
ManyLabs has released a collection of interactive science activities and projects under the Creative Commons BY-SA license. Many of these activities and projects are based on Arduino, an open-source microcontroller board. While most Arduino-based education projects are focused on electronics, programming, or robotics, ManyLabs is instead aiming for compatibility with the existing curricula of biology, physics, math, data, and my favorite, environment classrooms.
Previously ManyLabs was using a CC BY-NC-SA license. “We moved away from a non-commercial license because we want to make usage of the content more flexible. We want the materials to make the widest possible contribution to education,” explained Peter.
While the initial content has been seeded by a small group of contributors, ManyLabs hopes to make the site more community-driven by releasing authoring tools that will allow anyone to create, share, and modify interactive lessons. They also plan to release a platform for CC-licensed data that will allow students, teachers, and others in the community to share data gathered from sensors and manual observations. Together these tools aim to promote scientific reasoning and data literacy, both in schools and in the world at-large.
We are fully behind Peter and his mission. So, go ahead, share, sign in or sign up, and create a lesson. What better way to make the world more open than by teaching kids today about Open to ensure that tomorrow’s world will be full of young people who would have known nothing else.Comments Off
What do you get when you write software that becomes the basis of just about every geospatial application out there? You get perspective. Frank Warmerdam has been authoring, improving, supporting, and shepherding Shapelib, libtiff, GDAL and OGR for the past 15 years. Frank believes that by sharing effort, by adopting open, cooperatively developed standards, and avoiding proprietary licenses, adoption of open technologies could be supercharged. And lucky for us, he is right. To paraphrase him, open standards facilitate communication, capture common practice, and externalize arbitrary decisions.
Frank has done it all — worked as an independent consultant, for a proprietary remote sensing company, for a large search engine and mapping company, and now for a small, innovative space hardware maker. But most importantly, he has been a leader in the open geospatial world, at the helm of the Open GeoSpatial Foundation (OSGeo) that I myself have been involved with as long as I have personally known Frank, that is, for a good part of the past decade.
While OSGeo has faced a number of challenges, it has also enjoyed tremendous success through growing number of projects and chapters, local conferences, being perceived as a legitimate player, and recently, getting representation in its Charter Membership from 37 countries.
Frank says working on data libraries is a grungy job. Everyone wants ‘em but no one wants to work on ‘em. We relate to that as licenses are kinda like that, an essential infrastructure play that require getting the legal and technical details right, yet are most effective when they recede in the background and make us enjoy the content to the fullest.
Per Frank, the next set of challenges revolve around getting open geodata with easy to understand, interoperable license terms. As micro-satellite imagery becomes ubiquitous with frequent imagery collects, the resulting flood of imagery may lead to more ready adoption of open terms, perhaps even a current, live, or almost-live global, medium resolution basemap for OpenStreetMap. We can dream, and with my friend Frank to lead us with his quiet actions and measured wisdom, our dreams will come true.Comments Off
About 400 map makers, coders, cartographers, designers, business services providers and data mungers of chiefly spatial persuasion gathered in San Francisco to “talk OpenStreetMap, learn from each other, and move the project forward.” These conference attendees are a tip of an iceberg composed of 1.1 million registered users who have collectively gathered 3.2 billion GPS points around the world since OpenStreetMap was launched in 2004 as a free, editable map of the whole world. Unlike proprietary datasets, OpenStreetMap allows free access to the full map dataset. About 28 GB of data representing the entire planet can be downloaded in full, but also is available in immediately-useful forms like maps and commercial services. OpenStreetMap is open data licensed under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL) with the cartography in its tiles and its documentation licensed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
The program ranged from building and nurturing OSM communities, to technical wizardry, to improving infrastructure. Martijn van Exel provided an insight into the OSM community in the United States (see table below). Big countries and large areas pose challenges already in the queue to be tackled.
|land area||3.7 million sq miles|
|casual (< 100 edits)||71.0%|
|active (>100 edits, active in last 3M)||6.8%|
|power (>1000 edits, active in last 3M, active for >1Y||2.6%|
|total edits, all time||723,000,000|
|edits by top 10 mappers (incl bots and import accounts)||69.8%|
|edits by power mappers (excl most bots and import accounts)||57.3%|
Scientific authoring workflow is a beast. You keep notes on paper (hopefully, a notebook, and not just loose pages), in word-processing documents unhelpfully named “notes” followed by “notes1,” “notes2″ or worse, “notes_old,” “notes_old1.” You manage your bibliography on your desktop or on the web, you have a directory folder full of images, charts, photos and other media, and you collaborate with your co-authors by emailing attachments back and forth.
Sooner or later you start doubting your sanity but you soldier on. Finally you publish your paper, heave a sigh of relief, and move on, thereby ensuring your data can’t be reused and your work can’t be reproduced easily.
Several coders, designers, scientists, and publishers met at PLOS to brainstorm toward a better, more modern way. The Markdown for Science workshop was organized by Martin Fenner and Stian Håklev and supported by a 1K Challenge Grant from FORCE11.
Photos by Puneet Kishor, CC0 PD Dedication
While a lot of good ideas were generated, we have a long way to go. Keep an eye on this project, and better yet, pitch in with your ideas and code. Together we can tame this beast.Comments Off
Today the Public Library of Science announced the Accelerating Science Award Program (ASAP). The award program seeks nominations of individuals who have used, applied, or remixed scientific research — published through open access — in order to realize innovations in science, medicine, and technology. The goal of ASAP is to build awareness of and encourage the use of scientific research published through open access. Major sponsors include the Wellcome Trust and Google.
Three winners will each receive $30,000. The nomination period opens today and runs through June 15, 2013. Potential nominees may include individuals, teams, or groups of collaborators -– such as scientists, researchers, educators, social services, technology leaders, entrepreneurs, policy makers, patient advocates, public health workers, and students -– who have used scientific research in transformative ways. The winners will be announced in Washington, DC, in October 2013 at an Open Access Week event hosted by SPARC and the World Bank.
Creative Commons is a supporter of ASAP, along with several other library organizations, publishers, and research organizations.
For more information, including the full details of the ASAP program, nomination process, and the award specifics, go to http://asap.plos.org/. For program rules visit http://asap.plos.org/nominate/rules/.Comments Off
Hanging around with our own kind, we in the open science community might get lulled into thinking that everyone out there thinks like us. In reality, most scientists actually do science instead of worrying about whether or not it is open. However, even though some of their practices align with open science objectives, there is much more that can be done proactively to engender an open commons of science.
Sophie Kershaw, doctoral student in computational biology at University of Oxford, came up with the idea of injecting Open Science Training in formal curriculum, and teaching young scientists about Open while they are still young and learning about the scientific method, as part of her Open Knowledge Foundation supported Panton Fellowship. In Sophie’s words:
As the Open Science movement gathers pace, we are seeing developments in policy and infrastructure to support the transition of academia towards Open practices. Despite this, there is a considerable lag in awareness within the academic community itself – many researchers either haven’t heard about Open, or know the term but don’t know how to put it into practice! From a show of hands on the first day of my Open Science Training Initiative (OSTI), only ONE grad student out of 43 had heard of open science. It is now time for us all to step up our efforts in educating our academics in licensing, open access and data management, preferably through provision of pre-doctoral training. Our first research group plays a huge role in shaping our research outlook, but this leaves us with a huge variability in the level of awareness that students develop. Some will pitch up in a very forward-thinking group, where licensing, collaboration and data archiving is the order of the day, while others are left without this kind of information. Pre-doctoral training will ensure continuity of provision for ALL our science grads, enabling them to make their own decisions with confidence.
This kind of practical intervention delivered right to young scientists sounds like a great idea, and as Sophie says, reactions to the first edition of OSTI seem to confirm that:
Students from the inaugural OSTI came out strongly in favour of receiving training in licensing and engaging in debate on development of the publication process: furthermore, they’ve shown that while lectures are handy, hands-on experience is the best way to learn about how to license, how to release data, how to communicate science. We need to emphasize delivery of a coherent research story – comprising appropriately licensed data, code and writing – rather than merely the traditional written report. We need to make our young researchers see themselves as research users as much as research producers. Over time, this should help our newest grads deliver verifiable, reproducible research with vast potential for further development and scientific impact.
The Open Science Training Initiative is not an idea with immediate returns. Instead, it is for bringing about long-term change so the next generation of scientists and beyond proactively default to open. There are challenges ahead, such as creating right formats for different conditions and audiences, finding right partners who would incorporate OSTI in their courses, and scaling to reach the next generation of scientists all over the world. But, it is an idea we consider worth supporting, because the potential returns are lasting in nature.Comments Off
There are many ways we can measure the effect of the work we do — count the number of objects licensed with CC licenses, count the number of users who have used CC licenses, count the number of works created by reuse of works licensed with CC licenses, perhaps many other ways. But the one that is most immediately visible, and most satisfying, is seeing events of spontaneous openness appear as is for the international celebration of Open Data Day taking place tomorrow, February 23. Well, perhaps not so spontaneous, because organizing events takes planning, work, contacts, brainstorming, publicizing, and more.
Our own Billy Meinke is organizing an event at the CC HQ in Mt. View, and has also written more on the event here and around the world in a guest blog post on PLOS. Check it out, organize an event, or attend one near you. Heck, attend one far away by joining in over the web where possible. After all, that is how the net works.Comments Off
PLOS and figshare announced a partnership earlier today that will allow authors publishing in PLOS journals host their data on figshare. The authors would also benefit from the visualization capabilities that figshare provides right in the browser alongside the content. This partnership symbolizes all that is good about a healthy scientific publishing process that is enabled by innovative thinking aided by open licensing tools from Creative Commons.
When PLOS launched ten years ago, everyone involved could only hope for the kind of success it has seen in promoting open access publishing. Now with seven journals, six Currents sections, a network of blogs and new ways such as hubs and collections to organize content post-publication, PLOS spans a range of options from very selective to relatively inclusive. PLOS is the undisputed leader in the open access publishing space, and everything published by PLOS is under a CC license. But PLOS is constantly thinking of new ways to make the publishing process better.
John Chodacki, Director of Product Management at PLOS: “We know that Supporting Information acts as a container for valuable resources and data, but can remain relatively hidden from readers. With our partnership with figshare we are opening this data up to PLOS readers and showcasing its value.”
figshare is much younger. Founded by Mark Hahnel, a young scientist frustrated with the stunted mechanism for data sharing, figshare also adopted a blanket open licensing policy based on CC licenses and public domain dedication, and made it easy to upload, visualize and share data.
Mark says, “The common goal of PLOS and figshare for open access to research are connected by the liberal licensing of content, giving authors control over their outputs. Without the standards set out by Creative Commons, partnerships such as this would be much less achievable. Long may it continue as the academic space moves into new ways of disseminating research”.
Both PLOS and figshare leverage the internet to the fullest giving scientists a better way to publish research results and data. This directly promotes CC’s vision of realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.
By complementing each other, PLOS and figshare help the entire scientific process take another step toward being truly open. They are shining examples of leveraging the open licensing and public domain dedication tools created by Creative Commons. We wish them continued success and a future full of innovations we hope will continue to surprise and delight us.Comments Off
As research communities worldwide look for new ways to make the scientific process and its data and results more open and participatory, New Zealand is showing us how it is done.
In July 2010, The New Zealand Government Open Access and Licensing framework (NZGOAL) approved by the Cabinet provided guidance for agencies to follow when releasing copyright works and non-copyright material for re-use by others. NZGOAL seeks to standardise the licensing of government copyright works for re-use via Creative Commons New Zealand law licences and recommends the use of ‘no-known rights’ statements for non-copyrighted material.
Then in August 2011, the Declaration on Open and Transparent Government was also approved by the Cabinet whereby the government committed to actively release high value public data “to enable the private and community sectors to use it to grow the economy, strengthen the social and cultural fabric, and sustain the environment… to encourage business and community involvement in government decision-making.”
And earlier this month in December 2012, a report of the Education and Science Committee presented to the House of Representatives of the 50th Parliament an Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy. Among its recommendations were that the Government:
- review the intellectual property framework for (NZ) education system to resolve copyright issues that have been raised, including considering Creative Commons policy.
- consider the advantages and disadvantages of whether all documentation produced by the Ministry of Education for teaching and learning purposes should be released under a Creative Commons licence.
In keeping with this spirit, a group of researchers committed to bringing an Open Research conference to Australia and New Zealand are organizing a three day event February 6-8, 2013 in Auckland.
The purpose of this conference is to explore new, open models of research that speed up the effective transfer of research results and improve economic, environmental and social impacts. A growing community of researchers around the world are investigating new commercial and academic models to enhance the reach of their research. These new ways of doing research openly are akin to changes happening in the IT and business world, where open innovation has enabled people to achieve more together than they ever could alone.
Creative Commons plays a key role in promoting openness in science. Events such as this one in Auckland demonstrate the concern about open science that the community shares with Creative Commons. In the end, only good things can come out of openness, sharing and broad participation. Creative Commons is very pleased to see this event take place, and wishes it utmost success.Comments Off
Creative Commons has formed a new Science Advisory Board (SAB) to guide its science program and to provide overall strategic vision and focus. The SAB brings legal, institutional as well as domain-specific knowledge in the use and sharing of scientific tools and data. Our SAB is made up of eminent scholars and practitioners from different disciplines and four continents who have volunteered to provide us both the domain expertise as well as regional perspective to help create a truly globally responsive program. We are grateful to Gilberto Camara, Michael Carroll, Robert Chen, Juncai Ma, Peter Murray-Rust, Mackenzie Smith, and John Wilbanks for their time and insight.
Creative Commons works with scientists and institutions, providing education and outreach on the right technologies and licenses to maximize legal interoperability of scientific data and tools. Since most science is both cross-discipline and cross-border, legal interoperability of data and tools facilitates collaboration, enables reproducibility and verifiability, and makes it possible to extract a higher return on investment in publicly funded scientific programs through reuse of information.4 Comments »