first monday on a tuesday: a travel log

From: Eric Lease Morgan <>
Date: May 18, 2006 3:52:42 PM EDT
To: OSS4Lib OSS4Lib <>
Subject: first monday on a tuesday: a travel log

First Monday on a Tuesday: A travel log

This is a brief travel log documenting my experiences at the First Monday
Conference "FM10 Openness: Code, science, and content" (May 15-17, 2006). In a
sentence, the day I attended (Tuesday, May 16) the conference's papers described
policy and theory regarding open content, open licenses, and open science:

Tim Hubbard

The day was opened up by Tim Hubbard (Human Genome Analysis Group). He described
how open science is/was being used to map the human genome. He advocated open
data because open data makes for better science, and he said this kind of work
is more possible now than in the past because of high speed network access. He
also illustrated how competition can play a role in increasing productivity.

    | hospital +----------+
    +----------+          |
      ^                   |
      |                   |
  +---+------+            +---> +-------------+
  | hospital +----------------> | open source |
  +---+------+            +---> |  code/data  |
      |     ^             |     +------+------+
      |     |             |            |
      | +---+------+      |            |
      | | hospital +------+            |
      | +----------+                   |
      |   ^  |                         |
      |   |  |                         |
      |   |  |                        \ /
  +---+---+--+-+                 +-----------+
  |  treasury  | <---------------+  doctors  |
  +------------+                 +-----------+

The group (hospital) that contributes the most and most valuable code/data wins.
I liked this presentation because it demonstrated how the ideas of "open" can
and has been applied to areas beyond computer programming.

Andrea Glorioso

Andrea Glorioso echoed much of what Hubbard had to say in "FLOSS methods in
biotechnology: data, information and knowledge in context". For example success
can be defined in terms of useful data and the volume of data contributed to
science. At the same time he wondered whether or not open licenses will prevail
in open science, especially in the area of biotechnology. Many pharmaceutical
firms license exclusively techniques from smaller bio-tech firms. Open source
licenses are not exclusive. Something different will have to happen in terms of
licensing and open science.

Charlotte Tschider

Charlotte Tschider (Proficient Inc.) gave a talk entitled "Investigating the
"Public" in the Public Library of Science: Gifting Economics in the Internet
Community". She gave an overview of the Public Library of Science and an
overview of gift economies. She thought science was a sort of gift economy. She
then described a study she did comparing citations and hyperlinks in open access
journals and where those links appeared in "public" places. Much to her chagrin,
not as much of the content (about 20%) showed up in blogs, wiki's, etc.

Felix Stalder

Felix Stalder (University of Applied Sciences and Art in Zurich) in "Variants of
Openness" postulated three types of open projects:

  1. executable (like computer programs)
  2. verifiable/falsify-able (like data)
  3. experiential (like art)

One of his questions was, "How do we maximize the noise to signal ratio in these
open projects?", and of course he postulated a number of answers:

  1. voluntary hierarchy provide authority
  2. authority given from below
  3. software is "self-describing" and thus gives value
  4. credentials as a short-cut to value

A challenge of things open is, ironically, bringing them to a close. When is
Wikipedia "done"? Some possible solutions include: personalization and making
content related to one's experience. He used and LastFM as examples.

Finally, experiential projects are extraordinarily subjective and one person's
noise is another person's signal.

Open Science: Panel discussion

Clifford Lynch (Coalition for Networked Information), Andrew Odlyzko (University
of Minnesota), and Neil Smalheiser (University of Illinois at Chicago)
facilitated a panel discussion on open science. Some interesting quotes from the
panel included:

  * "Science is a means of getting accolades from your peers."
  * "Open Science show your dirty underwear."
  * "Open science does not necessarily help a scientist's
  * "Open science could be implemented with a top-down approach
     as well as a bottom-up advocacy."
  * "Impact is not necessarily a measure of success."
  * "Distributed annotation may be a way to facilitate open
     science, but is hard to sell because scientists are


The crowd at the conference was VERY international. It felt like a meeting of
the United Nations. I ate lunch with people from Canada, Peru, South Africa, the
United States, and China.

Joseph Reagle

Joseph Reagle (NYU) started the afternoon session with "Notions of Openness". He
described a number of things open:

  * open source software projects
  * open source democracy (blogs)
  * open source intelligence (Wikipedia)
  * open innovation communities (public domain stuff)
  * open content (Wikipedia and Digital Movie Archive)

Common threads in all of these things open are: participation, collaboration,
and sharing. Successful projects: create a project, have a level of
transparency, integrity, non-discrimination, and non-interference.

Aaron Krowne and Raymond Puzio

Aaron Krowne (Emory University) and Raymond Puzio described some problems with
licenses in "The Fog of Copyleft". Licenses proliferate. Content is moving from
one place to another. In the first place the content was licensed in one way,
but as it get moved to another place does the old license apply? The original
GNU Public License says that things distributed under it can not be
re-distributed in anything more restrictive. Krowne and Puzio called this
"license lock". With things like license lock and incompatibility of licenses
projects turn into silos or small pyramids. If license lock or incompatibilities
were removed, then the pyramids could grow and build upon one another.

     ___            two "license locked"
    _____      _    projects
   _______    ___
  _________  _____

     ___________       two projects with
    _____________      compatible licenses
  _________  ______

Solutions to these issues include: raising awareness, using "copyleft" as a
warning signal, work for institutional change, support a judiciary to
legislative shift, and advocate greater simplicity. In short, social change is

Fay Durrant

Fay Durrant (University of the West Indies) in her "Openness, Access to
Government Information and Caribbean Governance" described how "open government"
is affecting change in the Caribbean. She enumerated a number of factors
influencing access to open government: content, format blending, affordability,
usability, information policy, and property rights. "Openness is the first
element of good governance." "Openness is transparent." Increasingly I learned
that the governments of the Caribbean are making it easier for community groups
to access information and affect change.

Eric Lease Morgan

In "Ethical and economic issues surrounding freely available images found on the
Web" I shared how images from are being used and abused. The
issues can be stated as two questions:

  1. The accessibility of freely available content from is a drain on Infomotions, Inc.'s resources. How
     can Infomotions, Inc. lower its expenses and/or increase its
     revenue in order to eliminate or at least minimize this problem?

  2. There are people who are using the content from in a dubious manner. Are the copyright
     expectations of Infomotions, Inc. clearly articulated, explicitly
     stated, and to what degree enforceable?

Possible solutions included: removing the images, programatically limiting
referrals, licensing referrals, advertising, participating in affiliate
programs, selling merchandise, adding watermarks, and embedding rights
statements. See a pre-edited version of the article, complete with egregious
uses of images, statistics, and the ability to search the statistics, here:


I congratulate Ed Valuskus and Team First Monday for completing ten years of
publication. They definitely have something to be proud of, and I was honored to
play a small part. The participants were lively, engaging, forward thinking, and
brought a wider range of perspectives to the event. I foresee the 10th
anniversary issue making a bit of splash when it is complete. At the very least,
this conference was a good barometer measuring the current state of all things

Eric "Having Fun With ASCII Art" Morgan
University of Notre Dame

Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <>
Source: This travel log was first posted on the OSS4Lib mailing list.
Date created: 2006-05-18
Date updated: 2006-06-27
Subject(s): open source software; travel log; open access publishing; First Monday;