Reading Writings
May 06, 2016
for Nate

The following is a rundown of my writings on licensing, science, data, health, citizen science and related matters.

I have been asked to help people develop a custom license, and I always tell them why I Shouldn't, Wouldn't, Couldn't do that. Per one of the Three Axioms of Copyright Licenses, a license, any license, custom or already existing, doesn't guarantee at all that those who use your work will give you credit. These are similar to the Six-issues-with-licenses that I used to list when I was at Creative Commons (CC) and was asked related questions. So, stop worrying about copyright and protecting your work and instead focus on what you do best, that is, science and discovery, because What You Do Says About You.

While CC has achieved remarkable success in its relatively short existence, the The Deceptive Success of Copyright Licenses belies the fact that copyright applies to only a small portion of scientific content. Much of science involves generating data or samples, and analyzing them with software or instruments, and the Data Chain is long, convoluted and highly varied, be it seismology, astronomy, tree allometry, stable isotope biogeochemistry or photosynthetic light data . The fact is that It Takes All Kinds to Make a Commons and, therein lies The Problem With Copyright and its limited relevance to science.

The contribution of CC has not been as much a development of its licenses as it has been in Changing the Culture by creating a global community of people engaged around a common ethic of sharing. Similarly, we have to change the culture of science and education by encouraging risk taking, experimentation, questioning conventional wisdom, unorthodox methods—we have to learn to say “yes” in many domains, in many languages, From Aye to Si. We need Data Alliances Beyond Research when it comes to science. And, in fact, a few of the changes required may be quite revolutionary, such as reimagining the Library of the Future

In spite of CC's reluctance toward non-copyright focused projects, I was able to lead a few novel experiments while I was there, projects that went Beyond Law. The ethical and legal considerations around data affect the manner in which the concept of open applies in the health and medical field as opposed to other areas. For example, The Notion of Privacy is completely contextual, and we need to rethink of Consent as Control in Citizen Science. Such considerations also make for very different Perfect Health Repo Desiderata.

The “P” Words—policy, program and practice—are the three main points of intervention to bring about a systemic change required to solve the particularly thorny problem of reconciling the need to share data with the imperative to protect privacy. For example, contract law provides The Teeth Behind the Contract, but we may need different kinds of Social Contracts in the Digital Age where the manifestation of this tension is apparent very clearly in the medical field involving human subjects.

Because of my take on Sensors and Sensibility I remain Wary of Wearables but, as I show in the Taxonomy of Sensors, there is a sweet spot that can be exploited. Decreasing cost of sensors and new models of Open Hardware Licensing will continue to propel informal Learning by Making. But we will need to be more Inclusive by Design, more humane, and Being Humane would require more Citizen Engagement in Science with citizens involved not just as observers or data gatherers but also has active participants who affect the conduct of science and the policies that come out of it and impact the quality of our lives. We will have to move from From a Culture of Apps to a Culture of Health.

⬅︎ Remembering Lee Dirks
➡︎ The Role of Licensing in Science