science

Precocious One Year Old Turning Academic Publishing On Its Head

Puneet Kishor, February 12th, 2014

 

“If we can set a goal to sequence the Human Genome for $99, then why shouldn’t we demand the same goal for the publication of research?”

 

PeerJ logo started with that bold challenge. Now, the scrappy startup that dared has done it. One year old today, PeerJ, the peer-reviewed journal, has seen startling growth having published 232 articles under CC-BY 3.0 last year. By the way, per Scimago that number is more than what 90% of any other journal publishes in a year. Then in April 2013 PeerJ started publishing PeerJ PrePrints, the non-peer-reviewed preprint server with 186 PrePrints in 2013, all under CC BY 3.0.

Now PeerJ has more than 800 Academic Editors, from a wide variety of countries and institutions. There are also five Nobel Prize winners on the PeerJ Board. PeerJ receives submissions from all over the world, and covers all of the biological, health, medical sciences. As of the time of this post’s publication, the top subject areas for PeerJ submissions were

Subject Articles
Ecology 106
Bioinformatics 69
Evolutionary Studies 66
Zoology 54
Computational Biology 49
Microbiology 48
Psychiatry and Psychology 47
Marine Biology 45
Biodiversity 45
Biochemistry 45

Not everything has been easy. Starting an entire publishing company from scratch has been a learning experience for the entire team. From no brand recognition, no history, no infrastructure etc. to having successfully established themselves in all the places that a publishing company should be in: archiving solutions; DOI issuing services; indexing services; membership of professional bodies; ISSN registrations etc. PeerJ has done very well. Last year PeerJ won the ALPSP Award for Publishing Innovation.

PeerJ’s vision/mission are deceptively simple:

  • Keep Innovating
  • Remember Whom We Serve
  • Pass on the Savings
Interpretive drawing of DNHM D2945 Hongshanornis longicresta

PeerJ decision-making process is fast, very fast. Authors get their first decision back in a median of 24 days. Being small, and non-traditional means they can take risks. They have built interesting functionality and models such as optional open peer review; Their business model is based on individuals purchasing low cost lifetime publication plans, and that has resulted in a lot of their functionality being very individual-centric.

Compared to traditional publishers, PeerJ is a very tech-focused company. They built all the technology themselves, quite unusual in the academic publishing world, which normally uses third parties for their peer-review software and publication platforms. By doing it themselves they have much more control over their destiny, cost, and can build functionality which suits their unique needs. The high percentage of authors describing their experience with PeerJ as their best publishing experience is arguably a direct result of this. Much of PeerJ’s software is open source, and their techie roots are evident in their engagement with the community via events such as Hack4ac, a hackday to specifically celebrate, ahem, CC BY!

Peter Binfield, Co-Founder, says:

We firmly believe that Open Access publishing is the future of the academic journal publishing system. With the current trends we see in the marketplace (including governmental legislation; institutional mandates; the rapid growth of the major OA publishers; and the increasing education and desire from authors) we believe that Open Access content will easily make up >50% of newly published content in the next 4 or 5 years.

 
Once all academic content is OA and under an appropriate re-use license we believe that significant new opportunities will emerge for people to use this content; to build on it for new discoveries and products; and to accelerate the scientific discovery process.

Binfield continues:

We regard the CC-BY license as the gold standard for OA Publications. Some other publishers provide authors with “NC” options, or try to write their own OA licenses, but we have a firm belief in the CC BY flavor. If there are many different OA licenses in play then it becomes increasingly difficult for users to determine what rights they have for any given piece of work, and so it is cleaner and simpler if everyone agrees on a single (preferably liberal) license. We were pleased to see the license updated to 4.0 and were quick to adopt it.

In Jan 2014, PeerJ moved to CC BY 4.0 for all articles newly submitted from that point onwards (prior articles remain under CC BY 3.0 of course). Today, on PeerJ’s first birthday, we at CC send PeerJ our best wishes, and look forward to ever more courageous, even outrageous innovations from this precocious one year old.

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CC is now a Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Participating Organization

Puneet Kishor, January 16th, 2014

GEO logo

As of yesterday (January 15, 2014), the Group on Earth Observations approved Creative Commons as now a Participating Organization (PO) at its GEO-X Plenary in Geneva.

GEO was launched in response to calls for action by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and by the G8 (Group of Eight) leading industrialized countries to exploit the growing potential of Earth observations to support decision making in an increasingly complex and environmentally stressed world. GEO is coordinating efforts to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

GEOSS logo

GEOSS provides decision-support tools to a wide variety of users via a global and flexible network of content providers. GEOSS lets decision makers access a range of information by linking together existing and planned observing systems around the world and support the development of new systems where gaps exist. GEOSS promotes common technical standards so that data from the thousands of different instruments can be combined into coherent data sets. The GEOPortal offers a single Internet access point for users seeking data, imagery, and analytical software packages relevant to all parts of the globe. For users with limited or no access to the internet, similar information is available via the GEONETCast network of telecommunication satellites.

GEO is a voluntary partnership of governments and international organizations providing a framework to develop new projects and coordinate their strategies and investments. As of 2013, GEO’s Members include 89 Governments and the European Commission. In addition, 67 intergovernmental, international, and regional organizations with a mandate in Earth observation or related issues have been recognized as Participating Organizations (PO).

Dr. Robert Chen, CC’s Science Advisory Board member, was at the Plenary, and he had the following comment, “The GEO Executive Director, Barbara Ryan, pointed out in plenary that there was an extensive discussion in the GEO Executive Committee about making sure that new POs are active contributors to GEO activities. She noted that all of the proposed POs in today’s slate met this criterion.”

Creative Commons has been contributing to the GEO Data Sharing Task Force’s Legal Interoperability Sub-Group and its draft white paper on “Legal Options for the Exchange of Data through the GEOSS Data-CORE (PDF).” (I was a part of the Sub-Group as a Science Fellow, and our Senior Counsel, Sarah Pearson, reviewed the paper). We intend to continue to be active contributors by guiding GEO and its members on the legal aspects of data sharing.

Thanks to Paul Uhlir of the Board on Research Data and Information, National Academies for making the right introductions; and to John Wilbanks, another Science Advisory Board member, for initially encouraging CC to get involved with GEO.

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Paleobiology Database now CC BY

Puneet Kishor, December 19th, 2013

[written in collaboration with Shanan Peters, Professor, Department of GeoScience, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Principal Investigator of the Paleodb Project]

The Paleobiology Database

now available under

CC BY

After a year of community feedback and discussion, the Paleobiology Database has taken the decision that “All records are made available to the public based on a Creative Commons license that requires attribution before use.” The Paleobiology Database is now licensed under a CC-BY 4.0 International License.

Paleontology

Paleontology, the description and biological classification of fossils, has spawned countless field expeditions, museum trips, and hundreds of thousands of publications. The construction of databases that aggregate these descriptive data on fossils in a way that allows large-scale, synthetic questions to be addressed, such as the long-term history of biodiversity and rates of biological extinction and origination during global environment change, has greatly expanded the intellectual reach of paleontology and has led to many important new insights into macroevolutionary and macroecological processes.

Paleobiology Database

One of the largest compendia of fossil data assembled to date is the Paleobiology Database (PBDB), founded in 1998 by John Alroy and Charles Marshall. These two pioneers assembled a small team of scientists who were motivated to generate the first geographically-explicit, sampling standardized global biodiversity curve. The PBDB has since grown to include an international group of more than 150 contributing scientists with diverse research agendas. Collectively, this body of volunteer and grant-supported investigators have spent more than 9 continuous person years entering more than 280,000 taxonomic names, nearly 500,000 published opinions on the status and classification of those names, and over 1.1 million taxonomic occurrences. Some PBDB data derive from the original fieldwork and specimen-based studies of the contributors, but the majority of the data were extracted from the text, figures, and tables of over 48,000 published papers, books, and monographs that span the range of topics covered by paleontology. Their efforts have been well rewarded by enabling new science. As of December 2013, the PBDB had produced almost two hundred official peer reviewed publications, all of which address scientific questions that cannot be adequately answered without such a database.

Ptyagnostus atavus or Leiopyge calva Zone (Cambrian of the United States)
Olenoides superbus, Late Middle Cambrian, Upper Marjum Formation, House Range, Millard County, Utah, USA - Houston Museum of Natural Science

Photo by Wikipedia user Dwergenpaartje under CC0 Public Domain Dedication

  • Where: Utah (38.9° N, 113.4° W: paleocoordinates 4.1° S, 92.0° W)
  • When: Ptyagnostus atavus or Leiopyge trilobite zone, Marjum Limestone Formation, Marjumian (513.0 – 498.5 Ma)
  • Environment/lithology: offshore ramp; burrowed, peloidal packstone
  • Size classes: macrofossils, mesofossils
  • Primary reference: A. J. Rowell and N. E. Caruso. 1985. The evolutionary significance of Nisusia sulcata, an early articulate brachiopod. Journal of Paleontology 59(5):1227-1242 [A. Hendy/A. Hendy] more details
  • Purpose of describing collection: taxonomic analysis
PaleoDB collection 262: authorized by Jack Sepkoski, entered by Mike Sommers on 20.11.1998

Shift to CC BY

From its inception, the paleontologists who have invested the most effort in entering data have made decisions about data management and access policies, which ultimately brings up the important questions of proper licensing and citation. In the first application of the PBDB licensing policy, the individual contributors chose their own CC license for each fossil collection record. As a result there were three kinds of contributors: those who didn’t know what to do, didn’t care, or didn’t know about the new policy that required them to specify how existing collections should be licensed (55% of the data), those who selected the most restricted option available to them (34% of the data), and those who selected the most unrestricted option available to them (10% of the data).

This received mostly negative response via social media and other outlets, partly because of the increased attention the database was receiving during a leadership and governance transition. Naturally, the governance group responded to the community feedback. The first actual action was by individual contributors. Many of the contributors who either didn’t know about CC licenses or who didn’t think fully about their meaning and implications changed their own individual licenses. This always went from a more restrictive license to the least restrictive option available to them: CC BY. That wave of individual choices towards the least restrictive license immediately shifted the balance for records in the database. At that point, only one contributor had a restrictive license, and the governance group quickly moved to adopt one single unifying license for the database: CC BY. Now, all new records are explicitly CC BY as part of database policy, although individual contributors still have the option of placing a moratorium on the public release of their own new data so as to protect their individual scientific interests.

Future of PBDB

In addition to being a scientific asset to the field of paleontology, the PBDB and other databases like it provide an addition means by which to participate in rapidly emerging initiatives and developments in cyberinfrastructure. To increase its reach in this area, the PBDB now has an Application Programming Interface (API), which makes data more easily and transparently accessible, both to individual researchers and to applications, such as the open source web application PBDB Navigator and the Mancos iOS mobile application. Both of these applications are built on the public API and are designed to allow the history of life and environment documented by the PBDB to be more discoverable. These new modes of interactivity and visualization highlight unintended, but potentially useful, aspects of the PBDB. The PBDB API has facilitated a loosely coupled integration with other related but independently managed biological and paleontological database initiatives and online resources, such as the Neotoma Paleoecology Database, Morphobank, and the Encyclopedia of Life. The PBDB API can also be harnessed by geoscientists outside of paleontology, thereby facilitating the integration of paleontological data with diverse types of data and model output, such as paleogeographic plate rotation and geophysical models in GPlates. The liberal CC BY license ensures interoperability and data access necessary to facilitate fundamentally new science and because it expands the reach of paleontology to a broader community of researchers and educators than is possible via any single website or application.

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BioMed Central moves to CC BY 4.0 along with CC0 for data

Puneet Kishor, December 18th, 2013

CC 4.0

at

BioMed Central, The Open Access Publisher chemcentral_logo SpringerOpen

BioMed Central (BMC) is one of the largest open access (OA) publishers in the world with 250 peer-reviewed OA journals, and more than 100,000 OA articles published yearly. BMC is also long-time user of CC licenses to accomplish its mission of husbanding and promoting open science. BMC has been publishing articles under a CC license since 2004.

In June of least year, BMC’s Iain Hrynaszkiewicz and Matthew Cockerill, published an editorial titled Open by default in which they proposed a copyright license and waiver agreement for open access research and data in peer-reviewed journals. The gist of the editorial was that

Copyright and licensing of scientific data, internationally, are complex and present legal barriers to data sharing, integration and reuse, and therefore restrict the most efficient transfer and discovery of scientific knowledge, (and that implementing) a combined Creative Commons Attribution license (for copyrightable material) and Creative Commons CC0 waiver (for data) agreement for content published in peer-reviewed open access journals… in science publishing will help clarify what users—people and machines—of the published literature can do, legally, with journal articles and make research using the published literature more efficient.

Starting September 3, 2013, in keeping with its forward-looking mission, BMC started requiring a CC0 Public Domain Dedication for data supporting the published articles.

This is good because CC0 reduces all impedance to sharing and reuse by placing the work in the public domain. Good scientific practices assure proper credit is given via citation, something scientists have already been doing for centuries. Marking data with CC0 sends a clear signal of zero impedance to reuse. CC0 is a public domain dedication, however, wherever such a dedication is not possible, CC0 has a public license fallback. Either way, the impedance to data reuse is eliminated or minimized. Making CC0 the default removes uncertainty, and speeds up the process of accessible, collaborative, participatory and inclusive science.

But wait, there is more… starting February 3, 2014, BMC, Chemistry Central and all of SpringerOpen family of journals are also Moving Forward to the latest CC BY 4.0 license. Changes in CC-BY — version 4.0, released on Nov 25, 2013, represent more than two years of community process, public input and feedback to develop a truly open, global license suitable for both copyright, related rights and, where applicable, database rights. By moving to CC4.0, BMC is not only getting set for reliable, globally recognizable mark of open, it is also setting a high bar for the future of open science.

We at Creative Commons are big fans of BMC, and we applaud their move to creating a stronger, more vibrant open commons of science.

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Human Services Taxonomy

Puneet Kishor, December 2nd, 2013

[written in collaboration with Erine A. Gray, founder, Aunt Bertha and the Open Eligibility Project]

Text-based search is powerful. However, as more and more information is digitized and made available on the internet, the effectiveness of text-based search could stand to be supplemented with other technologies.

Aunt Bertha logo Aunt Bertha, an Austin, TX–based B Corporation, focuses on helping people to find government and charitable human service programs on the web. In the United States, there are 89,000 governments, a million charities, and more than three hundred thousand congregations. Many of these organizations provide food, health, housing, or education programs to those who need it (the “Seekers”). Aunt Bertha’s goal is to index all these programs so that the Seekers can find help in seconds.

Launched in the fall of 2010, Aunt Bertha founders learned something very interesting early on. In a medium-sized city, a Seeker can have at least 500 government and charitable programs to choose from. The user experience designer must ensure that the Seekers can easily find the program that fits their need, a task that’s harder than it might seem: not only are the Seekers are multi-faceted and complex; so are the programs that serve them. A common language that described both the Seekers and the available human services would go a long way to help as text-based search alone would not work. Enter the Open Eligibility Project.

Open Eligibility Project Realizing that other organizations were facing the same problem — and that there had been attempts at categorizing these types of programs before, but the terms and methodologies used were full of bureaucratic jargon — the Open Eligibility Project set out to simplify the taxonomy, the terms that describe human services.

There are two important facets to human services taxonomy: Human Services and Human Situations. Human Services are simply the services provided by the organization—examples include clothes for school, computer classes and counseling. Human Situations are simply the attributes of the Seeker—for examples, mothers, ex-offenders or veterans. Here is one example of the use of this taxonomy on Aunt Bertha:

WIC Program

It is not always easy to find the balance between comprehensiveness and ease-of-use. For this project to be successful, a tension should always exist between these two goals. Lean too far one way and it becomes suitable only for the policy wonks. Lean the other way, and it loses specificity and the Seekers can not find what they are seeking.

Since launching the Open Eligibility Project, there has been some interesting traction in the area of human services taxonomy. Just this year, a new Civic Services Schema was submitted and accepted by Schema.org. The ServiceAudience field of the spec, in particular, is a great fit for Open Eligibility’s Human Situations tags. If government agencies adopt this spec, it will make their programs more findable by people who fit those situations (ex: programs for veterans, programs for foster children, etc.).

What’s Next

Aunt Bertha seeded the Open Eligibility Project with all of the types of services and situations listed on Aunt Bertha. But, there are more out there though, and help from others would make the taxonomy even better. That is why the founders were attracted to Creative Commons, and decided to release the taxonomy on Github under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Hackers, coders, and those concerned generally with human services are invited to join the Google+ community, and to contribute to the project on the Github page, or to connect with Aunt Bertha on Facebook or Twitter.

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Identifying drug targets one protein at a time

Puneet Kishor, November 19th, 2013

Protein structure

The structure of human proteins defines, in part, what it is to be human. It is very expensive, as much as a couple of million USD, to determine the structure of human membrane proteins. Improvements in methods, computers and access to the complete sequence of our DNA, however, has made it possible to adopt more systematic approaches, and thus reduce the time and cost to determine the shapes of proteins. Structural genomics helps determine the 3D structures of proteins at a rapid rate and in a cost-effective manner. Structural information provides one of the most powerful means to discover how proteins work and to define ligands that modulate their function. Such ligands are starting points for drug discovery.

The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) at the Universities of Oxford and Toronto, solves the structures of human proteins of medical relevance and places all its findings, reagents and know-how into the public domain without restriction. Using these structures and the reagents generated as part of the structure determination process as well as the chemical probes identified, the SGC works with organizations across the world to further the understanding of the biological roles of these proteins. The SGC is particularly interested in human protein kinases, metabolism-associated proteins, integral membrane proteins, and proteins associated with epigenetics and rare diseases.

Academics work under the lamp post Drug discovery tends to be a crapshoot. As we are not good at target validation that essentially occurs in patients, more than 90% of the pioneer targets fail in Phase 2. Nevertheless, many academics and pharmas work on the same, small group of targets in competition with each other, wasting resources and careers, needlessly exposing patients to molecules destined for failure. The SGC chooses not to work under the lamp post, focusing on those targets for which there is little or no literature. This is because it is such pioneer targets, which will deliver pioneer, breakthrough medicines.

The SGC is a not-for-profit, public-private partnership, funded by public and charitable funders in Canada and UK, and eight large pharmaceutical companies – GSK, Pfizer, Novartis, Lilly, Boehringer Ingelheim, Janssen, Takeda and Abbvie, whose mandate is to promote the development of new medicines by determining 3D structures on a large scale and cost-effectively, targeting human proteins of biomedical importance and proteins from human parasites that represent potential drug targets.

SGC building leadership The SGC is now responsible for between a quarter and half of all structures deposited into the Protein Data Bank (PDB) each year. The SGC has released the structures of nearly 1500 proteins with implications to the development of new therapies for cancer, diabetes, obesity, and psychiatric disorders. As evident from the chart, SGC has published as many protein kinases as the rest of academia combined.

The SGC’s structural biology insights have allowed us to make significant progress toward the understanding of signal transduction, epigenetics and chromatin biology, and metabolic disease. The SGC has adopted the following Open Access policy—the SGC and its scientists are committed to making their research outputs (materials and knowledge) available without restriction on use. This means that the SGC promptly places its results in the public domain and agrees to not file for patent protection on any of its research outputs. This not only provides the public with this fundamental knowledge, but also allows commercial efforts and other academics to utilize the data freely and without any delay. The SGC seeks the same commitment from any research collaborator. The structural information is made available to everyone either when the structure is released by the PDB, or pre-released on www.thesgc.org.

Prof. Chas Bountra at the University of Oxford says:

“Society desperately needs new treatments for many chronic (AD, bipolar disorder, pain…) or rare diseases. This need is growing because of aging societies and diseases of modern living. As a biomedical community, we have yet to deliver truly novel treatments for many such conditions. This is not for lack of effort or resources. It is simply that these disorders are complex and there are too many variables or unknowns. It is clear that no one group or organisation can do this on their own. What we are trying to do is to bring together the best scientists from across the world, irrespective of affiliation, pooling resources and infrastructures, reducing wasteful duplicative activity to catalyse the creation of new medicines for patients. Secrecy and competition in early phases of target identification/discovery are slowing down drug discovery, making the process more difficult and more expensive.”

We at CC applaud the SGC’s commitment to open access and look to them for leadership in this arena. We believe the SGC’s findings would be a great candidate for the CC0 Public Domain Dedication because of the CC0 mark’s global recognition and a common legal status.

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Open Science Course — a cool connected science experience!

Billy Meinke, September 30th, 2013

This past August, I facilitated an online peer-learning course in the School of Open introducing open science to newcomers, and Michelle Sidler worked behind the scenes to keep things glued together. This guest post was written by Michelle, and gives a look at how things went teaching an entirely free course on open science over the web. It’s pretty cool.

Guiding Students through the Course

During last month’s round of School of Open courses, I helped out with a facilitated version of the Open Science course supported by Creative Commons, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and PLOS. On four Tuesdays in August, Billy Meinke hosted online discussions with a handful of well-known members of the open science community while participants from around the world completed course modules and blogged about their experiences. Here’s how things went down.

Screen Shot of P2PU Online Course

Note: The course materials and online discussions are available on the Open Science P2PU course page, and will continue to grow over the next few weeks as participants share blog about their experiences working with aspects of science that are either open or not.

Participant Blogs

While completing course units, participants blogged their experiences, offering reflections and insights about open science and sharing online resources they found. Participants were researchers and scientists from around the world, including biologists, climatologists, librarians, and even musicians.

Though we are still working through much of the blog posts, here are some examples of people learning about open access, open data, and open research for free through the School of Open:

The first of three modules introduced the topic of open access (OA), and after browsing through content about OA, learners were to report on the openness of published research articles they found on the web. A learner named Peter Desmet provided a fine overview of the history of open access and the different “flavours” of open access in an entry on his blog. The second module led folks to the topic of open data for science, where a peer by the name Odon shared her process of learning through her blog, Odonlife. Her writings offered definitions and descriptions of open data and assessed the openness of datasets she found online. Drawing from these lessons, she also described her experiences contributing to open data crowdsourcing projects and how they inspired her to start a similar project. For the third unit on open research, a peer in the course named Nicki Clarkson described the work of Jon Tennant, a paleontologist and open science advocate who deposited the data from his PhD research into the Paleontology Database, a repository for similar data. Jon even commented on her post, thanking her for the shout-out—another example of the ways in which open information brings researchers together!

odonlife blog screenshot

Featured Speakers

In addition to supporting the online course participants, Billy Meinke hosted online discussions with many open science friends and advocates from many locales and types of involvement with science around the world. Guests from a variety of organizations joined open, broadcasted Google Hangouts and shared their experiences in open science with dozens of learners watching each stream. Thanks to all the guests who took the time to chat with us about open science! Links to the video and etherpad notes (taken during the live sessions) can be found on the Open Science course page.

Screen Shot of P2PU Online Course

Taking the Open Science course further

The Open Science course doesn’t end when we complete the units and assignments. Continue the conversation by spreading the word to other scientists about this resource and encouraging them to participate. There has been interest in volunteer translation efforts and other adaptations of the material. Anyone is free to do so, in compliance with the CC BY-SA license on the course. Much of the material is licensed CC BY or CC0, which give even more open reuse rights!

school of open logo

If you’d like to find out more about what’s happening with this course and others in the School of Open, head on over to the School of Open Google Group and join the discussion! You can also sign up to be notified when the next facilitated course launches, likely in Spring 2014.

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Change Will Come, and ManyLabs Will Play An Important Part

Puneet Kishor, August 7th, 2013

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.

Temp and Humidity Time Series. Image courtesy ManyLabs, used under terms of CC BY-SA 3.0

Temp and Humidity Time Series. Image courtesy ManyLabs, used under terms of Creative Commons BY-SA license

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.

ManyLabs

ManyLabs

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.

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Frank Warmerdam–Leading Open Geospatial Community By Action

Puneet Kishor, August 7th, 2013

Frank Warmerdam at CC HQ

Frank Warmerdam at CC HQ

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.

Global distribution of OSGeo Charter Members

Global distribution of OSGeo Charter Members. Chart courtesy OSGeo.

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.

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State of the Map is alive and well

Puneet Kishor, June 11th, 2013

sotmus_mikel

Mikel Maron talking about social functions in OSM. Photo by Puneet Kishor, released under CC0 PD Dedication

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.

SOTMUS Program

SOTMUS Program. Photo by Puneet Kishor, released under CC0 PD Dedication

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.

population 310 million
land area 3.7 million sq miles
mappers 27,000
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%

SOTMUS badge As a spatial data munger and environmental scientist, I am proud to be a part of this community. As a believer in the power of open, collaborative science and geospatial, I am inspired by it.

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