Science Commons Symposium Thoughts
UPDATE: the recording of my talk is here, following Cameron Neylon. Also see other sessions.
The Science Commons Symposium held at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond on Feb 20, 2010 turned out to be the best conference I have attended in the past year. Hope Leman and Lisa Green did a fantastic job of lining up an electric group of speakers and making sure that everything ran smoothly. Chris Pirillo provided streaming video of the talks and the liveblogging on FriendFeed and Twitter was pretty active. The recordings will be made available shortly.
It was utterly captivating from start to finish. Cameron Neylon started us off with "Science in the Open: Why do we need it? How do we do it?" by outlining the tremendous opportunities of doing science more openly while remaining aware of the obstacles. I followed up with a specific Open Science implementation "Using Free Hosted Web2.0 Tools for Open Notebook Science", including the recent work I did with Andrew Lang on creating snapshot archives of a notebook with source files.
Antony Williams followed with "ChemSpider: Collecting and Curating the World’s Chemistry with the Community", convincingly demonstrating the power of crowdsourcing to curate Open Data. Peter Murray-Rust then covered "Open Data and how to achieve it", pointing out the role of an embargo period in getting people to start to participate in exposing data. All of these presentations made the symposium fairly chemistry centric but I don't think the audience minded - and there were a few chemists in the audience.
After lunch Heather Joseph from SPARC talked about "Is Open Access the “New Normal”?". Her views were about the role of policy change to support OA, for example how NIH funded work is required to be OA within 12 months of publication. Stephen Friend blew a lot of minds with his talk on "Setting Expectations: Need for Distributed Tasks and Evolving Disease Models". I'm not quite sure I completely get his network approach compared to our current disease models of targeting a specific receptor but I am sure I'll come across it again since it depends on the processing of (vast amounts of) Open Data.
Peter Binfield proudly recounted the achievements of PLoS ONE, of course including the article-level metrics: "PLoS ONE and article-level metrics – A case study in the Open Access publication of scholarly journals". I didn't agree with his call for converting all the metrics to a single number for academic performance reporting - but that did lead to a vigorous discussion on FriendFeed.
Finally John Wilbanks from Science Commons delivered the keynote. It was a mesmerizing overview of what is needed to make Open Science more productive and the importance of working at the bottleneck. He described the elegant way in which the CC0 license allows for a very simple way of making data available as if it were public domain, regardless of the laws in various countries. He also showed his current work on trying to make automatic licenses for processes under patent protection and material transfer agreements.
Brian Glanz has provided a detailed summary of all the sessions, including a wealth of links to slides and additional information.