HASTAC 1.1

The notes that follow are entirely my fault, and not at all the fault of the speakers. That said, I’m going to attempt to give a sense of what I take from various sessions at the conference. Various talks are available via webcast at HASTAC.

Jamie Boyle, “Creative Commons, Science Commons, and Open Source”

— digital technologies and relevance to learning in science: we don’t know what we’re doing

— recognition of our inability to predict the future should in fact be a positive

— we’re incredibly bad at estimating the advantages of openness; we overestimate the value of closedness and control

— we’d have made a series of bad choices if we’d been presented with proposals for the current internet or wikipedia, opting for more closed systems

— knowing that we’d have made those mistakes, perhaps we need to operate under the assumption that we don’t know, and that somebody else might have a better idea than we do

— open educational resources sites look like silos right now, separate from one another–CCLearn is devoted to making connections, allowing people to take content from different sources and recombine

— need to move from “this content is mine” to “this content is available for mining”

— makes no sense to spend millions of dollars creating balkanized islands of content

— science commons: creating a realm in which it’s easier to get the content you need

— series of blockages in the scientific process that could be solved by private agreement

— the research cycle: first you have to find the relevant literature (not just finding MORE data, but finding the RIGHT data)–access is not the problem–our methods for generating data have gone digital, but out methods for finding and comprehending data have remained analog

— semantic web–the web in which the computer “understands” the concept rather than searching for the term–admittedly not perfect right now, but will get better (someone will have a better idea)

— what if people apply semantic web concept to science?

— biggest problems: copyright and contracts–journals and publishers want to control what can be done with the material they publish, because they know that the future of publishing this material is not in getting readers, but in processing data

— the research cycle: then you need to get the “stuff”–the raw materials on which scientific experiments are run

— in part because of the credit economy in science–scientists don’t want to share the materials on which their work is based because it might take something away from their own work

— also being held up by legalities–tech transfer agreements are complex and arcane and slow

— uniform biological material transfer agreement can only go so far toward fixing the problem

— what if there were a creative commons-like form that handled all such transfers, in a machine-readable way

— what if you can get reputation for giving things away?

question: what about the unintended consequences of openness?

answer: there’s lots of research that we do want to maintain some kinds of control over, however, in order to cure a disease, scientists must have access to the disease. (cryptography: anyone’s smart enough to come up with a security system that he couldn’t break)

question: credentialing, authenticity, accrediting are important features of closed systems; how to translate to an open system

answer: two modes: one is authoritative map; other is to use a form of metadata, to see usage patterns

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