Open science now!

November 25, 2011

March 2011 TEDx-Waterloo Talk by Michael Nielson (posted Nov 2011) advocates for scientists to more openly share their data.  It is his belief that “any publicly funded science should be open science” … in order to more quickly solve problems in new ways.  He goes on to say “… the single most important thing that we can do to give impetus to ‘open science’ is create a general awareness amongst the population of the issue of ‘open science’ and of it’s critical importance.”

How important?  Consider the example mentioned in Edward Tenner‘s March 2011 TED Talk on how the U.S. forced such open sharing of data among researchers in WWII to quickly solve the problem of producing massive amounts of penillicin.   There are scores of other problems that would benefit from “open science”.

Getting back to the Nielson TEDx Talk, he relates how Galileo hid his research in anagrams and cyphers (like others did in his time) to prevent others from taking credit.  We got a glimpse of Galileo’s notes and methods during at the February 2009 Ignite Ann Arbor talk by University of Michigan Special Collections librarian Peggy Daub.

Galileo’s decision to more openly share his telescope discoveries surely prompted others to do the same.   One wonders how much less knowledge we would have today if they had continued to keep their discoveries more sequestered.



Open Transportation Data

November 20, 2011
Zimmerman had a more philosophical justification for how a government agency should act: “Putting information in the public domain is part of what we do.”
… quote from ReadWriteWeb: How the DC’s Metro Opened Up Its Data

More government agencies need to understand the value of doing this… and then do it.

How the DC’s Metro Opened Up Its Data
Three years ago, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority looked lost, and so did many of its riders. Those who hadn’t memorized Metro’s schedules had to employ its persnickety Trip Planner,…

Mapping Communications 1632-1824

November 12, 2011

(from ReadWriteWeb 11/9/2011)

Stanford’s Mapping the Republic of Letters project maps the letters exchanged among hundreds of individuals from 1632 to 1824, many of which led to the various revolutions of the time.

The interactive display tool allows one to select which correspondents, sender/receiver option, date range, and display option to use.  Not only can you visualize the “social network” of various intellectuals, you can see how it changes over time.

It would be nice if the display tool is soon available as an open source product that all can use to visualize our internet communications.

NY Times-Geo News Search

August 31, 2011

(from ReadWriteWeb 8/30/2011)…

The New York Times has rolled out a new, experimental feature, Longitude, that maps stories based on Geonames.

The app shows current news stories on an interactive map.  Clicking on a placemark shows a snippet of the stories relating to that location.

This is an example of what can be done with open, linked data… something we need more of, not less.

Imagine a mashup of data/news from other organizations as they begin to link to their information this way.  There could be a different icon style for each selectable feed… much like importing external calendars into a Google Calendar.

(Suggestion for future versions:  make the icons variable size and opacity based on the map’s zoom … or maybe by relevancy to the viewer’s preset topics of interest.)

United Nations Proclaims Internet Access a Human Right

June 8, 2011

Even while some in this country seek to restrict universally available high speed internet access at affordable prices, the United Nations has recognized the importance of the internet “for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress” and deemed internet access a human right.


This item provides the details.


Net Neutrality

May 17, 2011

Imagine if posts like this were blocked at the whim of your ISP. That’s what could happen if net neutrality is killed. The government didn’t set up up the internet and have it administered by the private sector so a few big corporations could decide who can send what at what rates. It did so to provide a means of free and open information exchange and idea sharing for all of us.

Congress Closing Open Govt Sites

April 3, 2011

According to reports, Congress is about to cut funding for most if not all current federal government efforts to open up previously closed departmental databases. and other similar websites provide more transparency into government operations as well as provide free, open, linked data for businesses, researchers, and citizen advocates.  Watch Tim Berners-Lee’s Feb 2009 TED Talk or any one of Hans Rosling’s TED Talks for a glimpse of how open data can help us understand the reality of what’s happening in our world.

Tim Berners-Lee - Open Data

Tim Berners-Lee Feb 2009 TED Talk photo by photonquantiqueCC BY-SA 2.0 on Flickr

Cutting funding for these open data sites will shut down an important new part of our information infrastructure and hamper public and private efforts to make government more efficient and effective.  Much of the data could be very useful for young companies, which provide most of the new jobs.

Visit Sunlight Foundation’s website to weigh in on this issue.

Downsized Slogans

February 21, 2011

With the clamor to cut government funding, will it carry over to some of our core values?  Shall we downsize some favorite sayings to match the Republican and Tea Party philosophy?

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
  • Ask not what your government can do for you, ask what you can do for your government

November 15, 2010

Gapminder graph of health care per person vs life expectancy worldwide.

Why we need health care reform.

Similar to this Hans Rosling version on Youtube (~8:40 #6 of 10 questions answered)

Disinformation Works… and Persists

November 9, 2010

I recently heard an acquaintance joke about Al Gore “Inventing the Internet”… and old example of disinformation that worked and still persists… the false quote used to disparage Gore for supposedly taking sole credit for the internet.

Here are a couple of sites that explain what Gore actually said and how he really was instrumental in helping fund the early internet:

It’s very discouraging to see disinformation persist so many years after the fact.  But judging from the results of the recent election, disinformation works.

Now, with the predicted end of Net Neutrality under the new crop of legislators, will we see disinformation spread more easily while the truth is suppressed?