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Commoner Letter #4 – Richard Bookman + Jesse Dylan's newly released "Science Commons" video


The fourth Commoner Letter comes from Richard Bookman, the Vice Provost for Research and Executive Dean for Research and Research Training at the University of Miami. In the letter of support below, Prof. Bookman champions open science and the innovation made possible through the sharing of scientific research.

Because this edition of the Commoner Letter is dedicated to Science Commons and advocates for the innovation made possible through open science, we decided it was important to release Science Commons’ inaugural informational video by renowned director Jesse Dylan, the director responsible for the Emmy- award winning “Yes We Can” Barack Obama campaign video with concurrently.

I’m ecstatic to bring you these two testaments of support for Science Commons and Creative Commons. We’re proud to have Prof. Bookman and Jesse Dylan’s support and hope you will consider joining them in supporting Creative Commons.


Dear Creative Commoner,

I’m Richard Bookman, the University of Miami’s vice provost for research, executive dean for research and research training at UM’s Miller School of Medicine, and a neuroscientist. As vice provost, I am the chief research officer for the University of Miami and I support the research efforts of our faculty through coordination of research activities across our 5 campuses and 12 schools and colleges. At the Miller School, I am responsible for nurturing and growing the research enterprise, promoting inter-departmental and inter-school research efforts, and overseeing research administration.

I’m writing today to urge your support for Creative Commons – and to tell you a little about how I’m working with CC.

CC came to me via the iPhone, when I downloaded a TED talk by Larry Lessig and started learning about the issues behind CC. Soon after that, I got involved with John Wilbanks and the Science Commons project as part of my work on the Florida CURED Council and the Florida Biomedical Research Programs. We put together a state-wide conference with Science Commons earlier this year where we focused on the connection between open licensing, open innovation, and the life sciences. It was a great day, and hopefully the start of a long collaboration with Science Commons.

I hope to grow that connection in 2009 to explore how Florida can begin to take the lead in open science – because the principles of “Some Rights Reserved” make an enormous amount of sense to me as a life scientist, as well as a university research leader. Furthermore, our discussions have persuaded me that the tools and ideas behind CC/SC represent an important stimulus to the business community to develop new business models that reflect and leverage off a networked scientific community.

We need to find ways to make sharing research results and tools easy, trackable, and useable by scientists on a day-to-day basis. Science Commons is working on these problems in a way that few other projects contemplate: they don’t write papers, they release “running code” like contracts for sharing biological materials and open contracts for biological tools like stem cells and genetically modified mice.

The Science Commons project sits in an odd place from a funding perspective. Most science grants go to faculty at university laboratories who write scholarly papers, or create patentable technologies, and not to legal projects. But most funding agencies that support legal research don’t want to fund science-oriented projects! So the folks at SC have to work harder than most to stay funded.

I support SC/CC because I think it’s the right approach at the right time. It’s vital that we as a community support the organization – the interstitial nature of what gets done at CC makes it harder than many might think to raise money, which can leave the most important work dying for lack of funds.

I hope everyone in the community can dig deep and support CC during this campaign. When you support CC, whether because of the cultural work, or the education work, or the science work, you’re supporting an organization that is much more than contracts and websites and videos. You’re supporting an umbrella organization working around the world that lives and breathes the “some rights reserved” philosophy.

Proud commoner,

Richard J. Bookman, Ph.D.

Posted 08 December 2008