Thursday, July 11, 2013

Open Access and Hunger

Medicine is a great example of why open-access is so important to the developing world. There's only one other type of research that is more important--- Agriculture! Without adequate food, health care is just an after-thought. That's what's so wrong about the current Farm Bill's attempt to privatize the research coming from the public's investment in agricultural research. Agricultural research needs to be open. The current Farm Bill proposal to create private profit with public funds is just wrong. It's fine to create the Foundation for Agriculture Research-- just require that all discoveries contain open licensing.
Q: What does OA have to offer the developing world?
A: Everything. A seat at the table as equals. The chance to participate in the worldwide project of research on a level playing field. A route into the academic world for impoverished but motivated students. Immediate access to crucial medical advances. A path towards research that's targeted to these nation's issues. It's almost impossible to overstate how important OA is for the developing world; for me, I think this is the single most important reason why we need OA.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The People's Department

"The Agricultural Department, under the supervision of its present energetic and faithful head, is rapidly commending itself to the great and vital interest it was created to advance. It is precisely the people's Department, in which they feel more directly concerned that in any other. I commend it to the continued attention and fostering care of Congress." -- Abraham Lincoln
Sold to the highest bidder! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Is Anyone Paying Attention: Farm Bill Version

That someone in the press actually decided to pay attention to the use of public funds for private gain in California is a really good thing. The exact same thing is happening with taxpayer dollars in the new Farm Bill. The plan is take $200 million of taxpayer money and siphon it off to a private entity for commercialization, and the hiding of the intellectual property away from public view. It started at $100 million and was quickly doubled to $200 million. One can only guess how many dollars will be sheltered from public oversight once this new Foundation for Agricultural Research is created.
Some readers may recall coverage on this blog of the most recent Regents meeting (May) in which an entity at UCLA to be known as Newco was created to license university-developed technology.  One small newspaper - the East Bay Express - has now given the new entity some (negative) attention and points out that there was little coverage of the issue in the news media. 
We can only hope that someone will notice what's going on in the Farm Bill before it's too late. Public funded research needs to be accessible to the people who funded it. This couldn't be any more important than when it comes to discoveries concerning food.

 Someone finally noticed Newco.

Monday, July 1, 2013

More Attempts to Circumvent Public Access

The regents of the University of California are trying the exact same shenanigans as contained in the Senate version of the Farm Bill.  This is just plain wrong! The public pays for this research, and they have the right to know what it contains. This research needs to be in the public domain where ALL (ANYONE?) could potentially use these results to create new products. This is such crap!
In a unanimous vote last month, the Regents of the University of California created a corporate entity that, if spread to all UC campuses as some regents envision, promises to further privatize scientific research produced by taxpayer-funded laboratories. The entity, named Newco for the time being, also would block a substantial amount of UC research from being accessible to the public, and could reap big profits for corporations and investors that have ties to the well-connected businesspeople who will manage it. 
This is virtually identical to what the Senate wants to do with $200 million of taxpayer dollars in their already passed version of the Farm Bill.  We can only hope the Congress kills this off. Is it any wonder that the public is losing faith in their publicly funded universities?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 Farm Bill's Threat to Open Access

I was reading the Senate's version of the 2013 Farm Bill which is scheduled for  markup this week. Where there is a lot not to like in the bill, it contained one particularly disturbing provision, the use of $100 million of taxpayer's money to create the non-profit Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.  The purpose of the Foundation is to solicit private funding for agricultural research, and to match it with taxpayer dollars. The bill states very clearly that  "The Foundation shall not be an agency or instrumentality of the United States Government." 

On the surface this seems like a good thing. If industry is going to benefit financially from publicly  supported research then it makes sense that they have some skin in the game. But here is what caught my attention and raised my ire: 
  1. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.—The Board shall adopt written standards to govern ownership of any intellectual property rights derived from the collaborative efforts of the Foundation. 
In other words, the Board, which is not an entity of the U.S. government, will determine the intellectual property provisions for the research funded by U.S. taxpayers. This is incredibly disturbing, and a clear end-run to the public's demand for open-access to science research. Just when it appears that open-access will become the law of the land we have a proposal in the Farm Bill to circumvent that access.

The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2013 will require Federal agencies with research expenditures over $100 million to create publicly available repositories of journal articles.  It is basically an extension to all Federal agencies of the National Institute of Health's open-access provisions mandating that the public have access to the results of the research they funded. 

If the people pay for the research, even part of the research, the results belong in the public domain. It's that simple. This language in the Farm Bill is just wrong. It needs to be changed to make sure that the public's intellectual property is not given away and locked-up forever. Write or call your Senators! 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Crowd sourcing a future focused list of core competencies

I'm leading a conversation for professional educators (academics) next week focused on the future of work. This is one of a series of Webcasts dealing with preparing the next generation of non-formal educators. My emphasis will be on optimizing workplace environments around ideation, creativity, and complex problem solving-- basically freeranging. I'm going to be focusing on workplace environments that are friendly to creatives, makers, and solvers.

In preparation for my session I watched the first session which happened last week. The presenters described the results of a delphi study (and another study) that had just been conducted (accepted for publication but not yet in print) that discussed the core competencies of non-formal educators needed for the year 2015. Here is the list:
  • Communication Skills
  • Diversity
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Professionalism
  • Resource management
  • Self direction
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Thinking and problem solving
  • Teaching
  • Information technology
  • Technology adoption and application
  • Research
  • Program planning, development, and evaluation
  • Subject matter expertise
  • Volunteer management
  • Continuous learning
  • Customer service
  • Flexibility and change
  • Organizational knowledge
  • Understanding stakeholders and communities
  • Management and supervision
  • Marketing
It struck me that this list could have just as easily been generated 10 years ago, and that it's not all that future focused. I know that a delphi is going to bring you a pretty conservative result-- the very nature of the way panelists are selected and the process will eliminate edge perspectives, and the consensus process will result in more conservative and basically safe findings. I think the core elements are probably found in the list above, but they are needing more specificity.

My reaction was to start creating my own list of the core competencies that will be needed in five years for a learning intermediary. What are the needed competencies for a networked economy where social learning is exploding? I had a pretty good start on a list when I realized that this might make an interesting crowd sourcing activity. Let's see if we can put together a list that really has a future focus, and I promise to use it in the seminar next Thursday.

Have at it-- either comment here, or over on Google Buzz where this post will be fed. Thanks!!!!

The post can be found here on Google Buzz: Crowd sourcing a future focused list of core competencies

Friday, November 26, 2010

The history of copyright from 1831-1891

A free book on the history of copyright in the United States from 1831-1891. I'm fascinated with almost everything from this period of time as I think it more closely represents how information currently moves in society as compared to the aberration that was the 20th century. I plan to start reading it today. You can get the book here: Pimps and Ferrets: Copyright and Culture in the United States, 1831-1891

A taste:
In the republican model of authorship, an author’s purpose is to
contribute to the public good, to educate and inform, promote virtue,
and to fight tyranny. For an author to depend upon the largess of a
patron is seen as slavish. However, instead of proposing that the
author’s livelihood be based on a property right to their work, this
ideology concentrates upon lowering barriers to entry and extending
authorship to a broad swath of society. Taken to the extreme, in this
model there would be no professional authors – but every citizen
would have the education, opportunity, and civic duty to participate
in a populist public sphere by writing
Sounds like a perfect model where every citizen has access to a modern and ubiquitous printing press-- like we have today.

What else did you have to do this weekend but learn about copyright? We've strayed too far from its original intent. Join me in reading. Its even free!