ENTRIES TAGGED "open science"

Crowdfunding science

Micro-patronage could let researchers step around funding obstacles.

In our first science-as-a-service post, I highlighted some of the participants in the ecosystem. In this one, I want to share the changing face of funding.

Throughout the 20th century, most scientific research funding has come from one of two sources: government grants or private corporations. Government funding is often a function of the political and economic climate, so researchers who rely on it risk having to deal with funding cuts and delays. Those who are studying something truly innovative or risky often find it difficult to get funded at all. Corporate research is most often undertaken with an eye toward profit, so projects that are unlikely to produce a return on investment are often ignored or discarded.

If one looks to history, however, scientific research was originally funded by individual inventors and wealthy patrons. These patrons were frequently rewarded with effusive acknowledgements of their contributions; Galileo, for example, named the moons of Jupiter after the Medicis (though the names he chose ultimately did not stick).

There has been a resurgence of that model — though perhaps more democratic — in the modern concept of crowdfunding. Kickstarter, the most well-known of the crowdfunding startups, enables inventors, artists, and makers to source the funds they need for their projects by connecting to patrons on the platform. Contributors donate money to a project and are kept updated on its progress. Eventually, they may receive some sort of reward — a sticker acknowledging their participation or an example of the completed work. Scientists have begun to use the site, in many cases, to supplement their funding. Anyone can be a micro-patron!

Petridish.org screenshot - funded scientific project

Deceiving the Superorganism: Ant-Exploiting Beetles” met its goal through Petridish, a funding site.

Read more…

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Four short links: 6 February 2013

Four short links: 6 February 2013

Cite Spam, Astro Science Labs, Citizen Science, and Accelerating Research

  1. Manipulating Google Scholar Citations and Google Scholar Metrics: simple, easy and tempting (PDF) — scholarly paper on how to citespam your paper up Google Scholar’s results list. Fortunately calling your paper “AAAAAA In-vitro Qualia of …” isn’t one of the winning techniques.
  2. Seamless Astronomybrings together astronomers, computer scientists, information scientists, librarians and visualization experts involved in the development of tools and systems to study and enable the next generation of online astronomical research.
  3. Eye Wirea citizen science game where you map the 3D structure of neurons.
  4. Open Science is a Research Accelerator (Nature Chemistry) — challenge was: get rid of this bad-tasting compound from malaria medicine, without raising cost. Did it with open notebooks and collaboration, including LinkedIn groups. Lots of good reflection on advertising, engaging, and speed.
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NASA launches second International Space Apps Challenge

In 2013, developers will once again boldly contribute code to projects where their code has never gone before.

From April 20 to April 21, on Earth Day, the second international Space Apps Challenge will invite developers on all seven continents to the bridge to contribute code to NASA projects.

space app challenge

Given longstanding concerns about the sustainability of apps contests, I was curious about NASA’s thinking behind launching this challenge. When I asked NASA’s open government team about the work, I immediately heard back from Nick Skytland (@Skytland), who heads up NASA’s open innovation team.

“The International Space Apps Challenge was a different approach from other federal government ‘app contests’ held before,” replied Skytland, via email.

“Instead of incentivizing technology development through open data and a prize purse, we sought to create a unique platform for international technological cooperation though a weekend-long event hosted in multiple locations across the world. We didn’t just focus on developing software apps, but actually included open hardware, citizen science, and data visualization as well.”

Aspects of that answer will please many open data advocates, like Clay Johnson or David Eaves. When Eaves recently looked at apps contests, in the context of his work on Open Data Day (coming up on February 23rd), he emphasized the importance of events that build community and applications that meet the needs of citizens or respond to business demand.

The rest of my email interview with Skytland follows. Read more…

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Science as a service

What happens when you apply software-as-a-service principles to science?

Software as a service (SaaS) is one of the great innovations of Web 2.0. SaaS enables flexibility and customized solutions. It reduces costs — the cost of entry, the cost of overhead, and as a result, the cost of experimentation. In doing so, it’s been instrumental in spurring innovation.

So, what if you were to apply the principles of SaaS to science? Perhaps we can facilitate scientific progress by streamlining the process. Science as a service (SciAAS?) will enable researchers to save time and money without compromising quality. Making specialized resources and institutional expertise available for hire gives researchers more flexibility. Core facilities that own equipment can rent it out during down time, helping to reduce their own costs. The promise of science as a service is a future in which research is more efficient, creative, and collaborative. Read more…

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Making the web work for science

Kaitlin Thaney on the value of open science and why broken methods are blocking big advances.

The field of science is firmly on our radar as a vertical with huge interest in and opportunities for the things that are foundational to O’Reilly’s world view: openness, platforms and APIs, creating more value than you capture, the web as foundational platform, the power of big data both as key to analytics and as business model chokepoint, sensors and the Internet of Things, open publishing … and it’s just beginning to be accelerated by startups.

It’s an exciting time in science, so for an update I spent some time with Kaitlin Thaney (@kaythaney), who helps organise Science Foo Camp, co-chairs Strata Conference in London, and who serves as the manager of external partnerships for Digital Science, a technology company serving scientific research, where she is responsible for the group’s public-facing activities. Read more…

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Four short links: 24 September 2012

Four short links: 24 September 2012

Open Publishing, Theatre Sensing, Reddit First, and Math Podcasts

  1. Open Monograph Pressan open source software platform for managing the editorial workflow required to see monographs, edited volumes and, scholarly editions through internal and external review, editing, cataloguing, production, and publication. OMP will operate, as well, as a press website with catalog, distribution, and sales capacities. (via OKFN)
  2. Sensing Activity in Royal Shakespeare Theatre (NLTK) — sensing activity in the theatre, for graphing. Raw data available. (via Infovore)
  3. Why Journalists Love Reddit (GigaOM) — “Stories appear on Reddit, then half a day later they’re on Buzzfeed and Gawker, then they’re on the Washington Post, The Guardian and the New York Times. It’s a pretty established pattern.”
  4. Relatively Prime: The Toolbox — Kickstarted podcasts on mathematics. (via BoingBoing)
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Four short links: 6 September 2012

Four short links: 6 September 2012

Human Genome Doxed, Programmed by Movies, CritterDrones, and Responsive Websites

  1. ENCODE Project — International project (headed by Ewan Birney of BioPerl fame) doxes the human genome, bigtime. See the Nature piece, and Ed Yong’s explanation of the awesome for more. Not only did they release the data, but also the software, including a custom VM.
  2. 5 Ways You Don’t Realize Movies Are Controlling Your Brain — this! is! awesome!
  3. RC Grasshoppers — not a band name, an Israeli research project funded by the US Army, to remotely-control insects in flight. Instead of building a tiny plane whose dimensions would be measured in centimeters, the researchers are taking advantage of 300 million years of evolution.
  4. enquire.js — small Javascript library for building responsive websites. (via Darren Wood)
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Four short links: 24 August 2012

Four short links: 24 August 2012

PublicSpeaking App, Wacky Javascript, Open Science in R, and Surviving DDOS

  1. Speak Like a Pro (iTunes) — practice public speaking, and your phone will rate your performance and give you tips to improve. (via Idealog)
  2. If Hemingway Wrote Javascript — glorious. I swear I marked Andre Breton’s assignments at university. (via BoingBoing)
  3. R Open Sciopen source R packages that provide programmatic access to a variety of scientific data, full-text of journal articles, and repositories that provide real-time metrics of scholarly impact.
  4. Keeping Your Site Alive (EFF) — guide to surviving DDOS attacks. (via BoingBoing)
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Four short links: 11 April 2012

Four short links: 11 April 2012

Inside Apple, Microsoft Acquires Netscape Patents, Open Science, and Smart Meters

  1. Inside Apple (Amazon) — If Apple is Silicon Valley’s answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, then author Adam Lashinsky provides readers with a golden ticket to step inside. In this primer on leadership and innovation, the author will introduce readers to concepts like the “DRI” (Apple’s practice of assigning a Directly Responsible Individual to every task) and the Top 100 (an annual ritual in which 100 up-and-coming executives are tapped a la Skull & Bones for a secret retreat with company founder Steve Jobs). Hopefully it can provide a better template for successful executive behaviour than “be an arsehole who has opinions about design” which seems to be all that many have taken from the life and works of Steve Jobs. (via BoingBoing)
  2. Microsoft Buys Netscape Patents from AOL (Slashgear) — when your employer says “we need you to file for a patent on this, just so we can build up our defensive arsenal”, bear this in mind: you can never know that the defensive portfolio won’t be bought by an aggressive competitor in the future. I’m not sure that we can all sleep sound knowing that Microsoft owns autofill and SSL.
  3. Open Data and The Gulf Oil Spill (Ars Technica) — competing interests meant uncoordinated data collection, reporting distorted research by omitting caveats on preliminary work and findings, and talking openly about what you’re doing can jeopardise your chance of publication in many journals. I found data collection stories particularly horrifying. (via Pete Warden)
  4. Smart Meter HacksListon and Weber have developed a prototype of a tool and software program that lets anyone access the memory of a vulnerable smart meter device and intercept the credentials used to administer it. Weber said the toolkit relies in part on a device called an optical probe, which can be made for about $150 in parts, or purchased off the Internet for roughly $300. “This is a well-known and common issue, one that we’ve warning people about for three years now, where some of these smart meter devices implement unencrypted memory,” Weber said. “If you know where and how to look for it, you can gather the security code from the device, because it passes them unencrypted from one component of the device to another.” Also notable for the fantastic line: “What you’re hearing is the sound of [a] paradigm shifting without a clutch,” Former said.
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Four short links: 31 October 2011

Four short links: 31 October 2011

Solitude and Leadership, Data Repository, Copyright History, and Open Source Audio

  1. Solitude and Leadership — an amazing essay on the value of managing one’s information diet. Far more than yet another Carr/Morozov “the Internet is making us dumb!!” hate on short-form content, this is an eloquent exposition of the need for long-form thoughts. I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else’s; it’s always what I’ve already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn’t turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing. (via Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011)
  2. Building The Perfect Data Repository (Cameron Neylon) — in which Cameron talks about solving problems for the people with the data. One of the problems with many efforts in this space is how they are conceived and sold as the user. “Making it easy to put your data on the web” and “helping others to find your data” solve problems that most researchers don’t think they have. [...] A successful data repository system will start by solving a different problem, a problem that all researchers recognize they have”
  3. Macaulay on Copyright — periodically someone rediscovers how the the 1841 debate on copyright mirrors our own, but that it was discovered before does not mean it is not worth reading again. At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men.[...] Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot.
  4. ALAC — Apple Lossless Audio Codec is now open source by Apple.
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