Four short links: 3 Mar 2009

The problems of Creative Commons around the world, ebook futures, open source biomed research, and a new open source conference:

  1. The Case For and Against Creative Commons — skip straight to page two, where the article talks about the places around the world where CC isn’t working. “More exactly, they fear that if you try to convert artists to CC who had never thought of copyrighting their works before, they may simply fall in love with the concept of making money through full copyright and stick to it.” (via Paul Reynolds on a mailing list)
  2. Are We Having The Wrong Conversation About eBook Pricing?“The first TV shows were basically radio programs on the television — until someone realized that TV was a whole new medium. Ebooks should not just be print books delivered electronically. We need to take advantage of the medium and create something dynamic to enhance the experience. I want links and behind the scenes extras and narration and videos and conversation…”. Yes, but radio shows still persist even though they’re delivered through the Internet. Old formats don’t have to die in the face of new media, the question is what’s best for a particular purpose. I read books on my iPhone as I go to sleep at night … I don’t want hypermedia linked videos and a backchannel. I don’t want the future of ebooks to be 1990s Shockwave CD-ROM “interactives”. (via Andrew Savikas’ delicious feed)
  3. Sage“a new, not-for-profit medical research organization established in 2009 to revolutionize how researchers approach the complexity of human biological information and the treatment of disease. Sage’s objectives are: to build and support an open access platform and databases for building innovative new dynamic disease models; to interconnect scientists as contributors to evolving, integrated networks of biological data.” Apparently they’ll be seeded with a pile of high-resolution very expensive data from Merck.
    (via BoingBoing)
  4. Open Source Bridge — open source conference in Portland, OR, started to fill the void when OSCON moved to San Jose. Very open source: they show you all the proposals, and you can even subscribe to a feed of the proposals as they come in. Many look good, though I’m pretty sure that 1993 called and wants its Tcl back. This conference might be just the excuse I need to visit Portland.
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  • eBooks. I’m not so sure it is necessarily the content that has be be enhanced. DVDs are still basically movies. But they offer features you cannot get in a theater experience – scene access, freeze frame, slo-mo etc. The power of eBooks is that you can have features that enhance the experience – electronic markup, cut and past, text search etc that you do not have in paper. Plus they are very lightweight and theoretically accessible from anywhere.

    Then there is the enhanced stuff I am interested in – text and context analysis that relates different books by the same author and between authors.

    And from a collective intelligence approach, how are books connected to each other through a variety of different analyses.

    For illustrative purposes, let’s take the Shakespeare/deVere controversy. I would like to pursue x-references to the canon to determine if they are good examples. I would like to apply text analysis to different plays to determine who the author might be compared to other contemporaries. I would like a link to time-lines of events, the appearance of plays and maps – perhaps as mashups.

    My sense is that this enhanced content could be provided by the author, publisher or, more likely through the readers. I see the mechanism as being in the platform, not the content per se.

  • Thanks for mentioning Open Source Bridge! We hope we will see you (and others) in Portland in June. And proposals are open through March 31–plenty of time to get your own thoughts about Tcl (or other open source tech) out there.

  • Wow, thanks for the mention! :)

    We’d love to have you, Nat. I was happy to see your talk last year at OSCON encouraging people to volunteer at schools.

    If it helps any, Brenda Wallace reminded me today that Portland has amazing beer and that I should mention that more often.

  • Thanks for the Open Source Bridge shout out, mate. If you do make it to Portland, the beer’s on me.


  • There is a lot of upside potential in e-books. The new Kindle is at, or perhaps even past the tipping point where the electronic format is preferable.

    Once that is achieved, the electronic format becomes the premium format, and the pricing pressure is relieved, in addition to the end-customer benefits of getting more value out of an e-book through extra features.

    Downloads accompanying books are a very simple example of electronic delivery enhancing value. It’s time to experiment with new stuff, especially for specialized books. Would be cool if programming books could be translated into courseware semi-automatically.

  • I really have no idea what is in someone’s mind when they decide to make snide remarks such as the remark by this poster regarding Tcl and 1993. It baffles me in particular why the open source community is so quick to “shoot their own”. In Tcl people will not only find a great library on which one can easily build a command language for a program, but a scripting language that provides glue for many purposes. Tcl was one of the first languages which based its internal representation of strings on Unicode, is one of the few languages which provides some degree of regular expression support for Unicode, has native GUI support on MacOS, etc.

    I suspect the real situation is that people who make jokes like this are, themselves, probably stuck in the past, at least as far as thinking about capabilities of the language.

  • Anonymous user of Tcl and Perl

    Larry, what else did you expect to hear from a co-author of a one of the best selling books on Perl? :-) (Which I have near my desk by the way. Along with “Practical programming in Tcl and Tk”).

  • Webb S.

    The Tcl/Tk session description has been revised to reflect Nat’s (very funny) 1993 reference. Please (re)visit at:

    As the person running the Tcl/Tk session (which has been accepted), I just want to mention that “The Perl Cookbook” was probably the single most important book to my software career. Go Nat, snide and funny remarks notwithstanding!

    Hope to see everyone in Portland this summer!

  • Fabricio Rocha

    “1993 called and wants its Tcl back”.

    I wonder if anybody says that 1972 is ringing the bell whenever something is done in C…