Tuesday, September 30, 2008

eResearch Australasia Conference 2008 - Tuesday morning (30 September)

John Wilbanks – Uncommon Knowledge and e-Research

Once again, John Wilbanks gave an informative and dynamic presentation. It was geared towards the audience in attendance here at the eResearch Australasia Conference (who are somewhat more IT and science focused than the audience at the OAR conference last week) and so described in detail many aspects of the NeuroCommons Project. If you are interested, I suggest that you see the Neurocommons website. I don’t think any summary that I could provide here would do the project justice. But here are some notes from the beginning of John’s presentation:

Why “eResearch”?

1. eResearch is a requirement imposed on us by the flood of data
  • the web doesn’t give us the same results for science as it does for culture
  • so what can we do?
  • We can…collaborate
  • Eg - Watson and Crick – their success was composed, by building on a series of blocks of knowledge that were available to them from a range of sources
  • But humans can’t build models to scale anymore
  • We need to utilize digital resources
One way to think about eResearch is that it is about:
  • Finding the right collaborator;
  • making big discoveries;
  • getting credit for one’s work
2. We need to convert what we know into digital formats that support model buildings
  • “the web” – no organising topics – hyperlinking allows us to organise things in a dynamic way
  • all the data and all the ides: building blocks
  • open access attempts to solve the legal problems – giving credit where credit is dues; allows humans to read the papers; allows publicly funded research to be accessed by the public
  • but it doesn’t solve the technical problem of paper-based formats that cannot be read by machines
  • we need to develop machine-searchable formats

Kerstin Lehnert, Columbia University – New Science Communities for Cyberinfrastructure: The Example of Geochemistry

Kerstin described eResearch as a vision to provide a genuine infrastructure of highly reliable, widely accessible ICT capabilities to assist researchers in their work – ultimately about people

She discussed the cultural issues involved in sharing data. She identified data citation (what I would call “attribution”) as a big problem. How can all scientists and contributors be cited? Many want to be attributed personally (not just by a project), but there are so many contributors and this quickly becomes a big and messy problem. This observation reflects the problem that we at the OAK Law and Legal Framework to eResearch Projects identified in assessing whether Creative Commons licences could be applied to data compilations. Attribution is an important condition of the CC licence. Researchers and research projects need to decide and identify (before applying a CC licence) how the data compilation is to be attributed, otherwise users could run into all sorts of problems and confusion.

Jane Hunter (UQ) - National Committee for Data in Science (NCDS)

A committee of the Australian Academy of Science – established in February 2008; member of CODATA

Mission – to promote enduring access to Australia’s scientific data assets in order to drive national research and innovation
And to provide a National Data Science voice
Encourage and facilitation cross-fertilisations, between specific science disciplines and other data generation/management disciplines

Future activities include engaging with Chairs of other national committees, including looking at what role they can play within ANDS (Australian National Data Service) to support their goals.

Review: Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome

On Thursday 25 September, I saw The Bell Shakespeare Company’s production, “Anatomy Titus Fall of Rome” at the Cremorne Theatre. The play was directed by Michael Gow and starred John Bell as Titus Andronicus.

I was very impressed with this production. It was contemporary (all actors performed in regular clothes and sometimes wore rather absurd masks) and powerful. I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to depict what is probably Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy, and in the end they did it with a lot of blood – a bucket of “blood” centre-stage, to be exact, which the actors flung all over the stage during the course of the production.

The actors did a wonderful job and carried the audience through the entire 2.5 hours without pause and without a hitch. The intermingling of comedy throughout the tragedy certainly helped.

The parts I liked best were where modern objects and references were weaved amongst the Shakespearian ones – books (I think all were actually copies of Shakespeare’s works) were used as weapons and the actor’s monologues frequently featured random modern words thrown in as if to keep the audience on their toes.

However my favourite part was after the play itself, when the actors took some time to talk directly with the audience. This was a wonderful thing for them to do and it resulted in some very interesting discussion. Importantly, we discussed why a play that featured a prominent black character and the violent raping and torturing of a young woman was performed entirely by a white male cast. Several female members of the audience expressed the feeling that they would not have been able to watch the rape scene had it been performed with a female actor, and were consequently glad that a man had played the part. I actually thought the absence of both a dark-skinned actor and a female actor only served to vividly (and almost shockingly) reveal to the audience the racist and sexist undertones in Titus Andronicus, and indeed, in much of the world still today. I was impressed with the way the cast discussed these issues with the audience– they proved to be intelligent and sensitive to the issues. (However, it did not change the fact that the actors could only ever act out their interpretation, as a white male, of what it was like to be a woman or a black man.)

I would highly recommended seeing this production before it closes on 4 October.

Monday, September 29, 2008

eResearch Australasia Conference 2008 - Cloud Computing

Monday – Plenary: Cloud Infrastructure Services Panel Session

Chair: Nick Tate, UQ
Tony Hey – Microsoft Research
Peter Elford – Cisco
Kevin Mayo – Sun Microsystems
Anne Fitzgerald – QUT

Tony – A Digital Data Deluge in Research

- outsourcing of IT infrastructure
- minimize costs
- small businesses have access to large scale resources
- eg – Virtual Research Environment run by British Library: content management; knowledge management; social networking; online collaboration tools
[similar presentation to at OAR conference]

Peter –

- is cloud computing really a new idea?
- don’t think so – still just software as a service
- so what is the “cloud”?
- do researchers struggle to get access to machines? – probably no
- but do they have problems managing them well – probably yes
- balance between technology, people and processes
- it is a natural evolution and another opportunity
- but not a disruptive technology

Kevin –

From point of view of building these systems:
- need a successful business model
- need to consider privacy and security in a global world
- need to understand technical considerations
- there are a number of services out there at the moment because they have managed to deal with the business model problems….
- …but they may not have effectively dealt with the other issues
- e.g. how you get your data to and from the service
- in the future – we might see: automating the collection and analysis of census data; climate data etc – with barely any interference by people

Anne –
- when we think of cloud computing, many legal issues come to mind: privacy, data security etc
- so far, adapting the law to the digital environment has developed in a very ad hoc manner
- so maybe we would be better to approach it from principles, I prose the following principles:

1. establishing trust in the online environment
- cloud computing = applications that can be accessed anywhere by anyone
- so issues of data security, privacy, reliability of the data and the service
- not much on this (beyond some privacy restrictions) in Australia at the moment

2. equivalence of traditional and online transactions
- need a set of rules to apply to online activities that are equivalent to traditional activities
- at the moment, attempt to transpose current laws in online environment = copyright, electronic transactions act
- but when we look at cloud computing we see this principle is not being applied in a consistent way
- need for clarification of concepts of ownership of data stored on someone else’s equipment
- vast difference between copyright licence given to Google for Google Docs – vs rights that would be given to someone in the real world who is storing and managing someone else’s documents (i.e. they would be given virtually no rights) – why the immense difference just because the storage and management occurs online?

3. Participation of Government in regulating online activities
- would enactment of legislation help or hinder here?

4. We need openness in this environment
- open standards and maybe also open source
- affordability of cloud computing can help to overcome the digital divide
- expectation of users is that they can access the service where and when they like

Development of laws and policies in this environment has occurred primarily at an international level (e.g. OECD – Seoul Declaration), but there is still no international body charged with regulating online commerce


Q: Ashley Buckle – Monash: not convinced that this is a solution for him running a small research lab – this is the problem: convincing people that this is for them, especially when they don’t want to be guinea pigs for new projects that may not work

A: Tony – you can only be convinced by something that works for you. There will be a variety of academic cloud services. But the real test is that it is easy to use, can be acquired easily and cheaply, and it should work for you and if it doesn’t work then you shouldn’t use it.

Q: If Microsoft and Google etc operate cloud computing services outside of the USA, does the Patriot Act still apply to them?

A: Not an expert on Patriot Act, but - we need to establish a uniformity or conformity throughout the world, after discussion among countries, and not just have one country’s law dominate, otherwise this could actual be a barrier to trade etc.

eResearch Australasia Conference 2008

I am currently in Melbourne for the week, attending the eResearch Australiasia Conference 2008, hosted by the Australian Government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) at the Sebel and Citigate Hotels, Albert Park. The conference runs from Monday 29 September - Wednesday 1 October, then there are two days of workshops on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 October. I will be here until Friday. I will try to blog my notes as I go (subject to internet availability) and I will post my overall comments at the end.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

OAR conference notes - Andrew Treloar

Dr Andrew Treloar – ANDS Establishment Project

Blue print for ANDS = Towards the Australian Data Commons (TADC) – developed during 2007 by ANDS Technical Working Group

TADC: Why data? Why now? – increasing data-intensive research; almost all data is now born digital; “Consequently, increasingly effort and therefore funding will necessarily be diverted to data and data management over time”

TADC: Role of data federations – with more data online, more can be done; increasing focus on cross-disciplinary science

Changing Data, Changing Research – e.g. Hubble data has to be released 6 months after creation

ANDS Goal = to deliver greater access, easier and more effective data use and reuse

ANDS Implementation assumptions:
  • ANDS doesn’t have enough money to fund storage, and so is predicated on institutionally supported solutions
  • Not all data shared by ANDS will be open
  • ANDS aims to leverage existing activity, and coordinate/fund new activity
  • ANDS will only start to build the Australian Data Commons
  • ANDS governance and management arrangements are sized for the current funding
Realising the goal – need to:
  • Seed the commons by connecting existing stores
  • Increase (human) capability across the sector in data management and integration

ANDS structure = four programs:
  1. Developing Frameworks (Monash) - about policies, national understandings of data management, and research intensive organisations = assisting OA by encouraging moves in favour of discipline-acceptable default data sharing practices
  2. Providing Utilities (ANU) – Services Roadmap, national discovery service, collection registry, persistent identifier minting and management = assisting OA by improving discoverability particularly across disciplines (ISO2146)
  3. Seeding the Commons (Monash) – recruit data into the research data commons = assisting OA by increasing the amount of content available, much of it (hopefully) OA
  4. Building Capabilities (ANU) – improving human capability for research data management and research access to data – esp. early career researchers teaching them good data management practices from the beginning = assisting OA by advocating to researchers for changed practices

OAR conference notes - government bodies

Jenine Borowik – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

What stimulates particular disciplines to adopt OA when others do not?

This question is particularly pertinent to the ABS – ABS has a mission of promoting informed decision making – but there is an increasingly array of “national interests” – as a result, ABS has realised that we cannot continue to be an island of research and information gathering and dissemination, we need to work with other organisations. Due to this, interest in encouraging a community of organisations to build a rich statistical picture of Australia.

In 2005, ABS removed the barrier of price to access for information. So anyone who accessed ABS website could freely download publications etc. Number of downloads has risen from 1 million per year to 5 million per year. Page views from 50 million to 150 million.

Creative Commons (CC) gives a solution to another barrier – the legal barrier. ABS is interested in using CC. Would like to use something that is successful and widely understood rather than something they have developed that is “just theirs”. Also interested in the way the licences are carried with the particular item of data, and the requirement for attribution. Legal aspects not the primary consideration for ABS, so if there is a mechanism that makes it easy to apply the right licences then that is a good thing.

Jeffrey Kingwell - Geosciences Australia (GA)

GA is a national geographic information clearing house. Collects seismic info, operates national mapping agency etc.

Mission = collect geographic stuff to give to other people to do stuff with.

So why is it so difficult to get the stuff out there?

Finding that due to a number of factors, including IP law and IP government policy, that it is important to align OA policy with IP policy. This is an issue where policies developed in different departments (e.g. IP policy by commercialization unit, OA in another area). GA is trying to construct an IP policy that is consistent with their vision and core function.

Creative Commons Pilot Project 2007-08

  1. Have a simple statement of your objective in sharing
  2. align IP policy with that
  3. use simple tools (such as CC) to implement

Dr Alexander Cooke – Australian Research Council (ARC)

Broad principles for an Accessibility Framework:
  • Publicly funded research outputs and data should be managed in ways that maximise public benefit;
  • Institutions or individuals receiving public funding have a responsibility to make the results of that funding publicly available
  • ….
What opportunities are there?
The Accessibility Framework offers the ARC and NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) the possibility of strengthening their funding rules to mandate rather than encourage deposit

OAR conference notes - Maarten Wilbers

Session Six: A Legal Framework Supporting Open Access

Maarten Wilbers – Deputy Legal Counsel, CERN

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – switched on 10 September

SCOAP = Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing in particle physics

Fundamental research mandate in particle physics – in a good place to move to full OA publishing of their scientific data and publications – this might be the “tipping point” for scientists in other disciplines

CERN founded in early 50s – OA in high energy physics was “in the cards” from the beginning…because OA is so logical

If you walk around CERN you can see the enormous tools constructed from public funds to help scientists gain greater understanding of small particles – the case for OA can almost be made without a word being spoken

OA in publishing is the future

CERN’s 1954 Convention has laid the foundation for a culture of openness in the dissemination of the organisations scientific work: CERN must perform fundamental research for non-military purpose and make the results of its work generally available

This requirement of openness has helped in the shaping of a string of sequential milestones:
  • Scientific collaboration across national (and political) boundaries;
  • Preprint culture and peer review;
  • World Wide Web;
  • Computing Grid and Open Source software;
  • And most recently: promotion of OA publishing.

The legal frameworks governing these activities are supportive rather than restrictive in nature and adapted to collaboration involving multiple participants. Legal issues mostly concern copyright and are generally uncontroversial.

OA is a logical application of the web.

SCOAP aims to convert high quality particle physics journals to OA

Scientific experiments at CERN reflect CERN’s requirement of openness

Collaboration usually laid down in MOU - IPR vested in creating party, wide licensing between all parties involved

Publication of CERN’s work: particle physics pioneered the pre-print culture in the 1950s, scientific manuscripts circulated between scientists for peer review before publication

Main milestone was the creation of the World Wide Web at CERN by Tim Berners Lee

1992 – CERN released the WWW software in the public domain – “CERN relinquishes all intellectual property rights to this code, both source and binary form and permission is granted for anyone to use, duplicate, modify and redistribute it”

Why OA (from CERN’s perspective)?
  • High quality journals, offering peer-review, are the [High Energy Physics] HEP’s community’s “interface with officialdom”;
  • Depending on definition of HEP, between 5000 and 7000 HEP articles published each year, 80% in 6 leading journals by 4 publishers
  • Subscription prices make the current model unsustainable. Change is required
  • HEP is a global undertaking and OA solutions should reflect this.

CERN’s potential solutions for OA publishing:
  • Articles free to be read for all
  • Tender process will result in price of article; linked to quality
  • ….
Legal issues – keep things as simple as possible!

A strong example if OA publishing – the design of LHC published in OA journal (Journal of Instrumentation..?) just recently

OAR conference notes - Tony Hey

Tony Hey – Cloud Computing

Rationale for Cloud computing
  • Outsourcing IT infrastructure
  • Minimize costs
  • Large cloud/utility computing provides can have relativel very small ownership and operation costs due to the huge scale of deployment and automation
  • Small business have access to large scale resources

Example – Amazon Web Services
= Simple Storage Service (s3) – storage for the internet; simple web service interface

Example – smugmug.com
= Profitable, debt-free company because it does not have any hardware resources; it only uses Amazon hardware (for free, in the cloud)

Examples from Microsoft:

Live Mesh
  • A PC in the cloud
  • Can synchronize PC in the cloud with your laptop, your mobile devices such as phones or music players etc
Office Live Workspace
  • Can upload documents for other people to work on
  • Other people can download and use those documents that you choose to share

The future = software plus services for science

Expect scientific research environments to follow similar trends to the commercial sector

Example - Trident Scientific Workflow Workbench

Toward a Smart Cyberinfrastructure

Collective intelligence

Example – last fm.

A world where all data is linked…
…and stored/processed/analyzed in the cloud

OAR conference notes - Richard Jefferson

Richard Jefferson – Opening the innovation ecology
  • Public good is not an abstract
Yochai Benkler Stack: Physical-Code-Content-Knowledge

We should ask the question: if we are successful in that everything is made OA – what then? We must make sure that the knowledge we generate will enable people to act on this knowledge and use it for benefit

The post-Yochai Benkler Stack = Physical-Code-Content-Knowledge; Capability to Act

We now have a system that is so opaque and has embedded in it intrinsic “inpermissibility” that it is not useful and capability to act on it is restrained

CAMBIA – focused on innovation system reform

BiOS Initiative – launched early 2005 with an article in Nature, biology open source (biological innovation for open society);

Patent system – actually a system based on open disclosure
This is not about rhetoric – it is about the practical goal of efficiency

OS – open source; open science; open society (need inclusiveness)

Used example of “golden rice” – which was once “poster child” of biological engineering - development of rice for third world areas where there was vitamin A deficiency in food so children were going blind, but the result used so many different products and processes that were patented that eventually the golden rice was not able to go ahead

Patent Lens – develop harmonized structure and infrastructure for searching patents; embedded metadata about patents; web 2.0 quality decision support about patents;

Efficiency = minimise tainting of product from incorporating other people’s IP (usually unknowingly) and maximise capacity for adoption – can try to do this by improving people’s knowledge about what IP is incorporate and enhance decision-maker’s ability to make good decisions for public good

Persistent, pervasive, jurisdiction agnostic activity = platform for community collaboration and transparency

Proper parsing, visualization and decision-making

Initiative for Open Innovation – increasing the equity, efficiency and effectiveness of science-enabled innovation for public good

Defining open innovation:
Open = transparent
Open = inclusive

Web based tools for scientists funding agencies, public sector and innovation enterprises to mine the patent world

Build patent lens into Nature and PLoS biology – to show, where readers are reading an article about a particular invention, whether the author has filed a patent on this

OAR conference notes - Alma Swan

Alma Swan – Open Access: The Next Five Years

Where we are now:
  • Focus = research articles
  • Latest estimates show level of OA for research article is still <20%
  • Expect even more attempts by (some) publishers at obstruction:
  • Arguments often fallacious – best way to deal with them is calmly and rational
  • Arguments sometimes dishonest
  • Argument always wrong to argue that publicly funded research carried out by public researchers should not be made publicly available because it would hurt a private/commercial player
  • Weapon: copyright
  • Wield it, now, against the interest of academic and the paying public
  • Reason for the panic: OA mandates

Open Access policies:
  • a lot of almost-there well-meaning policies
  • come in various flavours; not all taste good to everyone
  • NIH
  • But we are on an upward trend
  • Mandates work; voluntary policies do not
  • Because the outcome makes glorious sense for the research institutions and funders
  • Repositories are also management tools
  • And marketing tools for a university
  • Helps the university make the best use of the web

Repositories: state of play
  • growing at a rate of around 1 per day
  • Alma cannot believe that within 5 years there will not be a serious university that does not have a repository and does not actively use it

  • It is a completely resolvable issues
  • Yet it is the major barrier to simple acceptance and practice of OA by researchers
  • Copyright futures – actually a tendency towards the legal strengthening of copyright in general
  • Research community practice will demonstrate the way copyright is applied to scholarly articles is out of date
  • Author agreements that retain copyright (licence to publish)
  • New ‘liberal’ practices with respect to publishing findings
  • Anyway, OA is completely compatible with copyright

New, ill-defined issue: research data
  • increasingly the primary output in some fields
  • data have yet to be properly recognised as research output
  • increasingly the subject of mandates, too

New research approaches…
  • …depend on OA
  • e-research (big research) – collaborative research – needs OA to make it work properly
  • but so does collaborative ‘small’ research
  • interdisciplinary research
  • web 2.0 outputs becoming a norm
  • early examples of institutional solutions – institutions have to start to help things happen – VIVO: Virtual Life Sciences at Cornell (a system that links up within the uni: the repository, the library, personal websites of academics etc);

Pragmatic Solutions:
  • joining articles, data and other related outputs in better ways
  • more (and more) work on standards
  • ‘surfacing’ web content – i.e. better way to show off OA content
  • new services built across repository networks
  • clearer vision of how to reach a repository-based scholarly communication system
  • new technologies need to show content in a form that researchers (and machines) can exploit (XML) – needs to be semantic/exploitative technologies
  • there are already publishers who use a repository as a means of submitting the paper to the publisher for peer review

Wrong solutions: impact and assessment:
  • for too long we’ve used a proxy measure to measure impact (journal impact factor), but for years it has been use to advance (or retard) careers
  • with an OA corpus, multiple metrics and indicators are possible
  • e.g. in the health sciences in the UK, move to measure impact by where it leads in terms of new medicine, new treatment NHS spending etc, not just the journal where the article is published

Mahatma Gandhi:
First they ignore you
Then they laugh at you
Then they fight you
Then you win!

Everything “open” started as a big joke. But things are changing….

It’s been too easy to dismiss the issue:
  • institutions have been notably disengage
  • scholarly communication has been low on the agenda
  • yet it is central to the core mission of a university

Questions universities will be addressing:
  • Are we happy with current quality and impact measures?
  • What do we want?
  • What new reward systems can we build?
  • How can we use the internet better?

Commentators: Prof Tom Cochrane (QUT) and Derek Whitehead (Swinburne)

Prof Tom Cochrane


Mandates are only likely to succeed if they are clearly purposed in terms of scope – there must be clarity about what outputs the mandates will catch, where the outputs will be and for what purpose, and clarity at a policy level about whether it is in itself sufficient to make a rule (mandate) – at QUT it was thought not to be enough, that it had to be implemented cleverly, which is where the library came in in developing the repository properly


We need to look at the system of rewards – until we do something about incentives for data curation, then they wont happen or will happen accidentally and haphazardly


A large number of people are rendered more uncertain about copyright than about anything else. Copyright must be dealt with in this space – we need clarity about it as an enabler not an obstacle


One trend that is contradicting the nature of research, is that the semantic web tools are forcing questions about how collaboration is to be managed. There rush to develop tools where management is at a machine level rather than a human level. But unless we solve some of the legal and regulatory issues that are thrown up by the use of these tools then we will keep being hindered in our OA efforts.

OAR conference notes - John Wilbanks

John Wilbanks (of Science Commons) – The Future of Knowledge

Knowledge is a set of building blocks – value is not that much until you start to put it together with other ideas and knowledge

Ideas and knowledge want to be connected

2 futures – we get to choose which we build – (1) only the people who have money have access to the knowledge (2) one in which there is an open network

(1) Knowledge brings revolutions

The past of knowledge = “Human-scale knowledge” – the scholarly canon (journals) – knowledge was human-organised and human-structures
How did this knowledge bring a revolution?

Moving to a world where knowledge acquisition is faster, smaller, cheaper and more robotic. Moving from a world where humans generate the scale of knowledge to a world where machines generate the scale

We have an implicit network that is already there for knowledge, but because we are generating it so quickly and on such a large scales, we are coming up against barriers - legal (copyright, DRM), technical (still use paper based formats online that cannot be searched by machines – i.e. PDF), business (publishers make money from closed access and we don’t yet know how they can make money or build business models around open access), social (scientists still get rewarded for being closed) - that we never encountered before

Over-atomised knowledge – smaller and smaller questions – primary output is a paper – John argues that these are not the primary vehicles for knowledge in a digital world

Incremental advances via technology – no big risks to achieve great advances anymore because you don’t get rewarded for making these risks, in fact you come up against huge legal barriers that prevent you using other research to take these risks

(2) We need to make systemic changes that connect knowledge

e.g. “the commons” – a number of different meanings: (1) land we hold in common e.g. public footpath; right to do research – rights of way across private property; (2) no copyright – things we all own

we are coming from a world where it was hard to be a creator and disseminate your work. We are not in that world anymore. There is now a disconnect between the copyright laws that Disney wants and the copyright laws that we as individual creators want. This is where the commons can make a systemic change.

Systemic change about the way we think about how we share knowledge – not just paper-based formats in a digital form – forces us to use technologies that are immediately outdated – what kinds of technology can we used instead? – a network of devices (layers: physical; code; content – there has been many developments of openness in these layers, but we have also seen an imposition of control in these layers (copyright)) – do we need new layers? Knowledge layers; graph layers etc. Info atomization kind of forces our hand to do this. Knowledge accessed needs to support the questions being answered (eg – when you type a query into Google – it tells you to read thousands of papers – this is not the ideal answer)

Copyright is incompatible with ideas connecting to each other.

(3) The disruptive force of connected knowledge

“guild” culture (as in historical sense of guilds, where the crown put limits on people not in the guild from weaving etc)

the way we do science actively discriminates against crowds and the wisdom of crowds

knowledge can be democratized: programming; creativity; buying and selling
it is easy, cheap and free

there are no office superstores for science; there are no internet marketplaces for science…but they are coming

destroying a guild culture of knowledge…what will come after it?

Creating a network culture for knowledge

• are we going to “watch” the knowledge like tv, or do something with it? – in the future of knowledge, we should do stuff with our knowledge rather than just consume it

Commentators: Dr Terry Cutler and Prof Mary O’Kane

Dr Cutler –

proud of the focus in Innovation Review on open access; however, first an apology and explanation – there is a difference between web version and print version – both supposed to be released under CC but were not (copyright assertion for Dr Cutler instead) – now attempting to have this rectified for the web version.

Key assertions from the report = about investment in people; global integration; flows of information and the freedoms to innovate

2% challenge of Australia – at best, we have a 2% share of global knowledge generation, and we don’t pay enough attention to the other 98% and how we access this – as a country we will always have an interest in an open network because we derive the most benefit from it

flows of information = communications. Communications theory and legal principles around communications were always based on connectivity. Open access is really just an extension of these principles.

Challenge – who really “owns” this problem of driving solutions (particularly at a government level)? – we need the government to address accessibility issues and articulate a national innovation policy – someone needs to take responsibility for this at the centre of government

Too much emphasis on “protectable” knowledge and not enough on informal networks and social networks that underpins the generation of an innovative community – need to open up access to that tacit knowledge and put social networks back into science and technology

Professor Mary O’Kane –

(1) is the future that John is talking about possible? How do we get to participatory science?

Can Australia lead this move into a participatory culture? We need to change the incentives for scientists. We need to change the social culture and drivers generally. So what are the drivers? Usually the intrinsic values are strongest (i.e. solving problems) not money. So how can we celebrate these intrinsic values? Across the university sector we need to reward people for open publishing.

(2) Issues that arise if you start to get the participatory culture going?

Problems that arise when you use the networks that have been built automatically, is that it is very hard to “probe the node” and know what is in the network. But does the human need to know or can we leave this to the machine? Do we need to know the knowledge? And at what level?


[John: we need to lower the cost of failure to increase the rate of innovation (i.e. in the context of start-ups)]

(1) Richard Jefferson: the power of the guild is building value, trust and quality control and we shouldn’t erode that

John (response): we don’t need to get rid of guild completely, but we need to build another layer where we can build on the knowledge of everyone – but we can still have trademarks etc to control quality

Mary (response): I’ve always wondered why we don’t use the internet more for structured, controlled discussion about things – there is no reason why we couldn’t and that would also help control quality – by generating discussion

(2) Roger Clarke – referring to the “tacit knowledge problem” seems to assume that the way the human mind works can be reduced to a computer-based system and the problem is that the mind does have a generic model that we can all grasp but we just haven’t transferred it over to the computer yet. But everyone thinks differently.

John (response): I don’t think we can actually encode how the mind works, but we need to make information available. That is the importance of openness – you need to be able to read, criticize and comment on what I put up, and that is how we see the reflection of the many different minds at work. Getting it into the computer means we can start accessing that information and competing on it using our brains rather than competing on our access to computers.

Open Access and Research Conference - general comments

From Wednesday 24 September - Thursday 25 September, QUT Faculty of Law and the OAK Law Project ran the Open Access and Research Conference at the Stamford Hotel, Brisbane.

I think the conference was a great success. There were a great number of attendees both from Australia and abroad who were extremely knowledgeable about open access, e-research and the digital environment. These attendees included John Wilbanks of Science Commons, Alma Swan of Key Perspectives, Richard Jefferson of CAMBIA and Patent Lens, Professor Brian Fitzgerald and Professor Anne Fitzgerald of QUT Law Faculty, Maarten Wilbers of CERN, Professor Stevan Harnad (via video link), Tony Hey from Microsoft, Carolina Rossini formerly of Creative Commons Brazil and now based at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Senator Kim Carr (via video link), Professor Warwick Anderson of NHMRC, Dr Andrew Treloar of the ANDS Establishment Project, Frederika Welle Donker of Delft University in the Netherlands, and many many more. The quality of attendees at the conference meant that the discussions which followed each presentation and continued into the morning tea and lunch breaks were some of the most interesting I have heard to date.

Senator Kim Carr's opening address strongly endorsed the principles of open access to knowledge and information, and referred to the recommendations made in the recently released green paper on the Review of the National Innovation System ("the Cutler Review"), of which there was much discussion generally at the OAR Conference. (For the relevant recommendations, see my earlier post).

On the first day, John Wilbanks gave an enlightening presentation that discussed how the internet is "democratizing knowledge" by breaking down the "guild culture" of experts on a particular topic and replacing it with a "network culture" where experts still have a role but where others have more input as well.

Then, Professor Brian Fitzgerald of QUT law faculty announced the upcoming collaboration between QUT and Richard Jefferson of CAMBIA.

On the second day, Maarten Wilbers of CERN fascinated everyone with pictures of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which has just been turned on, and with an intriguing history of CERN and the role it has played in the open access and e-research movements, right from the creation of the world wide web by Tim Berners Lee through to the LHC today.

I was also very interested to hear from Frederika Welle Donker, who took us through the developments in Europe in relation to open access to public sector information (PSI) and materials. In particular, she discussed the European Union PSI and INSPIRE Directives.

The presentations of all participants will be available shortly on the OAK Law website.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Queensland Premier's Literary Awards

I am pleased to announce that a good friend of mine, Amy Vought Barker, has won the Queensland Premier's Literary Award in the Emerging Queensland Author category for her manuscript, Omega Park. Amy's manuscript will now be published by University of Queensland Press (UQP).

The full list of winners were reported in today's Courier Mail, or you can visit the Department of the Premier and Cabinet's website here.

Congratulations Amy!

[Update - see this post at Literary Minded]

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

just a quick note...

...to say that I have updated my CV to reflect that as of yesterday, I am now admitted as a legal practitioner in the Supreme Court of Queensland. There is a link to my CV in the right hand bar.

Update: conferences

This is just a reminder of the upcoming conferences at which I will be presenting:

Open Access and Research Conference

hosted by the OAK Law Project and QUT Faculty of Law, at the Stamford Plaza Hotel, Brisbane, Queensland, 24-26 September 2008

I am leading a workshop, with Scott Kiel-Chisholm and Anthony Austin, on Friday 26 September, 9:00am - 12:00pm, entitled, "Practical steps for handling copyright, IP and other legal issues.

Register here

eResearch Australasia 2008

Sebel and Citigate Hotels, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 29 September - 3 October 2008

I am presenting in a workshop on Friday 3 October, entitled, e-Research in the Arts, Humanities and Cultural Heritage. My presentation will be on "Academic Authors, Publishing and Open Access in an e-Research Environment".

Register here

Innovation Review

venturous australia, the Report on the Review of the National Innovation System has just been released: see here.

I have yet to read the entire 228 pages of it; however, on a first skim, the interesting recommendations from my perspective are:

Recommendation 6.5
To build concentrations of excellence, encourage collaboration and achieve better dissemination of knowledge, introduce additional funding support for university and other research institutions to partner with each other and with other research organisations (national and international). Discussions about additional levels of support should occur during the projected
round of compact negotiations.

Recommendation 7.7
Australia should establish a National Information Strategy to optimise the flow of information in the Australian economy.
The fundamental aim of a National Information Strategy should be to:
  • utilise the principles of targeted transparency and the development of auditable standards to maximise the flow of information in private markets about product quality; and
  • maximise the flow of government generated information, research, and content for the benefit of users (including private sector resellers of information).

Recommendation 7.8
Australian governments should adopt international standards of open publishing as far as possible. Material released for public information by Australian governments should be released under a creative commons licence.

Recommendation 7.9
Funding models and institutional mandates should recognise the research and innovation role and contributions of cultural agencies and institutions responsible for information repositories, physical collections or creative content and fund them accordingly.

Recommendation 7.10
A specific strategy for ensuring the scientific knowledge produced in Australia is placed in machine searchable repositories be developed and implemented using public funding agencies and universities as drivers.

Recommendation 7.14
To the maximum extent practicable, information, research and content funded by Australian governments – including national collections – should be made freely available over the internet as part of the global public commons. This should be done whilst the Australian Government encourages other countries to reciprocate by making their own contributions to the global
digital public commons.

Recommendation 12.1
The Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council should be replaced by a new National Innovation Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, and supported by a small but high level Office of Innovation. An International Innovation Advisory Panel would be formed to provide advice to the Council on international engagement.

Recommendation 12.8
That common metrics, performance indicators and mechanisms for collecting and sharing data be developed and adopted by all jurisdictions.

Recommendation 12.13
A National Centre for Innovation Research should be established to advance knowledge of the innovation system through high quality, independent research which is strongly relevant to policy and practice.

I am particularly excited to see Creative Commons licensing appear in Recommendation 7.8 and the notion of the "global public commons" in Recommendation 7.14.

I will post more on my thoughts about the Innovation Review once I have read the Report properly

Friday, September 5, 2008

Quentin Bryce sworn in as GG

ABC has reported that Quentin Bryce has just been officially sworn in as Australia's first female Governor-General.

The ABC reports: "Ms Bryce broke new ground as one of the Queensland's first female barristers and law lecturers. She was also a federal sex discrimination commissioner and human rights advocate".

I think this is a good day for Australia, Australian women, and Australian women lawyers in particular.