First off, this is the first meeting I've attended where I actively participated over Twitter during the presentations. It was really interesting to follow this additional layer of conversation. I had also created a Friendfeed account ages ago, but have mostly used it to aggregate my own content. Sometimes understanding a new social networking tool requires seeing it in action, which I certainly did this weekend.
Brian Glanz of the Open Science Foundation wrote up a great roundup, including links to any available slides for each speaker. If you want the slides, go visit this page, I didn't link them below.
Jean-Claude Bradley, one of the speakers, also wrote up a quick recap.
Steve Koch also wrote up some notes (and on Saturday night, too!) including a mindmap!
Secondly, thanks to Microsoft Research for hosting us (best box lunch I've ever had!) and for the free book! The Fourth Paradigm: Data Intensive Scientific Discovery is the first book published by Microsoft under a Creative Commons license, so make sure to snag a downloadable copy.
So, on to my value-add.
- A theme that emerged from several presenters (Cameron Neylon, Jean-Claude Bradley, Stephen Friend of Sage Bionetworks, John Wilbanks) was the problem of handling the exponential, explosive growth of data. There are problems archiving it, problems with standardized ways of processing and handling it, and problems retrieving it. Doesn't this sound like it's right up our alley? And why aren't librarians doing more in this arena?
- Similarly, another theme was the eroding trust in traditional peer-review publications. Jean-Claude pointed out a few specific examples of seriously flawed articles making it to publication, Antony Williams of ChemSpider showed examples of published articles linking to incorrect molecular structures found on wikipedia (seriously!), and Peter Murray-Rust said that a serious flaw is that the peer-reviewed system doesn't have a method for making authors take responsibility for their data, instead relies too much on trust. While there were some questions about weeding out the crap in open access or non-peer-reviewed science publishing (disclaimer: I do NOT mean to imply in the slightest that OA publishing=no peer-review. Different things entirely), these examples seem to show that traditional peer-review isn't doing such a great job of this. Peter Binfield of PLoS ONE also went into detail about how the peer-review system is flawed, and talked about how journals (like PLoS ONE) are changing the system. If some of these trends continue, it will have serious impact on library subscriptions. If a fundamental breakdown in the trust in the peer-review system occurs, open access journals are the least of our concern.
- Peter Murray-Rust was one of the only speakers to refer specifically to librarians when he stated that "librarians are not doing enough to make data open." He was talking specifically about electronic theses and dissertations at the time. One of the things that was especially interesting to me here was the Twitter conversation: Plausible (not a librarian) thought that libraries have largely been left out of the conversation. Scilib (a librarian) seemed to agree with Murray-Rust, not just about ETDs, but about data in general. I tend to agree with both - though we may be left out, that doesn't mean we can't butt in, especially since we are the single largest market for all the publishers and vendors who sell this stuff.
- While I'm on the subject of Peter Murray-Rust, I spoke with him during the reception afterward and asked him whether he thought librarians had a place in curating data. He didn't agree with that idea (although I said "curating" and didn't break it down as I did above - I think he thinks the curating should be left to the scientists, but that could be my own interpretation). What he DID want from librarians is more help with the grant-writing process: tracking down potential funders, examples of successful grants, etc. I thought that was particularly interesting.
- John Wilbanks gave a very stimulating keynote to wrap up the symposium (note to self - I like the keynote at the end of the conference, a nice way to finish things up!). He talked generally about the challenges of bringing creative commons-style licensing to data and the differences between the relationship of creative commons to copyright and similar licensing to patents or material transfer agreements. He said that trying to put data into copyright licenses breaks, and the only real solution to put data completely into the public domain (i.e. a Creative Commons Zero license)- which of course opens up a whole host of other complications. He said that one of the things that will free data is shared names, that common names and common formats facilitate running a structured query in order to discover things. Hmm, why does that sound familiar? (Okay, maybe a simplistic leap, but you get my point).
- Wilbanks also had a few inspirational quotes (or paraphrases from notes, anyway): "Generativity offers us a innovation-based chance for success." "Science began in the garage, now it's going back." "The richest people in the world can't buy cures to diseases." and "citation can scale in a way that attribution can't."
- The Panton Principles: Principles for Open Data in Science
- BioMed Experts: a social network for scientists, creating automatic networks based on co-authors
- The Spectral Game: a game that helps curate molecular spectra on ChemSpider.
- Open Notebook Science Challenge
- Open Wetware
- Synthetic Pages: an interactive database for chemical procedures
- Is it Open Data? An Open Knowledge Foundation project.
- Chem4Word: a chemistry add in for MS Word 2007.
- OREChem Project: a "collaboration between chemistry scholars and information scientists to develop and deploy the infrastructure, services, and applications to enable new models for research and dissemination of scholarly materials in the chemistry community"
- Sage Bionetworks:integrative genomics and network biology research
Update: because I posted this on the Friendfeed Group, I thought I'd try to embed any ensuing discussion: