Changing Paths, Staying The Course

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Six years ago I met a young organization's even younger project. Science Commons, a new project of Creative Commons (CC), was organizing its first event at the National Academies in Washington DC, a workshop on envisioning an information commons for science. I managed to snag an invitation to the event, met John Wilbanks, and was hooked.

For the next six years I learned about CC's mission, pored over its licenses, talked to its staff members, watched its presentations, took two IP law courses at the Wisconsin Law School, spent a summer working at the National Academies learning about science data policy, and read through countless scientific papers, law reviews, and articles on various issues surrounding access and use of digital scientific data. I continued working at UW-Madison as a data scientist, creating and implementing new techniques and tools for managing and analyzing earth sciences data, but I also took to the road as a volunteer evangelizing CC/SC approach to science. It was a great ride, but it had to end… so an even better ride could start.

Today is my first day as the Policy Coordinator for Science and Data at Creative Commons. I will soon be moving to San Francisco, and working with Timothy Vollmer and other smart colleagues in a place where it never gets cold, and devoting most of my cycles to CC's activities in science.

I also love what I do at UW-Madison. After all, scientists create the data that I want to help set free. I am tremendously fortunate to have been working with a very smart and thoughtful geoscientist, my friend Shanan Peters. I will continue to work with him on innovative data sharing projects as well, albeit at a diminished level. And, since there are 168 hours in a week, I will also continue working on science data policy issues with the National Academies and CODATA. All of this makes sense to me as these are three different views of the same concern of free and open access to scientific data. But, CC will now be my primary focus.

In the 27 years since my first job, I have been very fortunate to work at only what I was really passionate about. As such, I have lived in only four cities and held only four jobs. San Francisco will be my fifth city, and CC will be my fifth job, and there is little else that could make me happier. Free and open access to scientific data is what I really care about, and I finally get to devote all my waking time to it. I am going to my CC family.