Free software/free science | Kelty | First Monday

Over the last few years, as the Open Source/Free Software movement has become a constant in the business and technology press, generating conferences, spawning academic investigations and business ventures alike, one single question seems to have beguiled nearly everyone: “how do you make money with free software?”

If the question isn’t answered with a business plan, it is inevitably directed towards some notion of “reputation”. The answer goes: Free Software programmers do what they love, for whatever reason, and if they do it well enough they gain a reputation for being a good coder, or at least a loud one. Throughout the discussions, reputation functions as a kind of metaphorical substitute for money – it can spill over into real economies, be converted via better jobs or consulting gigs, or be used to make decisions about software projects or influence other coders. Like money, it is a form of remuneration for work done, where the work done is measured solely by the individual, each person his or her own price for creating something. Unlike money, however, it is also often seen as a kind of property. Reputation is communicated by naming, and the names that count are those of software projects and the people who contribute to them. This sits uneasily beside the knowledge that free software is in fact a kind of real (or legal) property (i.e. copyrighted intellectual property). The existence of free software relies on intellectual property and licensing law (Kelty, forthcoming; Lessig, 1999).

In considering the issue, most commentators seem to have been led rather directly to similar questions about the sciences. After all, this economy of reputation sounds extraordinairily familiar to most participants [1]. In particular two claims are often made: 1) That free software is somehow ‘like’ science, and therefore good; and, 2) That free software is – like science – a well-functioning ‘gift economy’ (a form of meta-market with its own currency) and that the currency of payment in this economy is reputation. These claims usually serve the purpose of countering the assumption that nothing good can come of system where individuals are not paid to produce. The assumption it hides is that science is naturally and essentially an open process – one in which truth always prevails.

The balance of this paper examines these claims, first through a brief tour of some works in the history and social study of science that have encountered remarkably similar problems, and second by comparing the two realms with respect to their “currencies” and “intellectual property” both metaphorical and actual….”

Intractable? – Adam Hyde

Scholarly publishing loves intractable problems. Building publishing platforms is often argued to be such a thing.

I think there’s a reasonable amount of skepticism here toward any claims to have solved what has been, for decades, an intractable set of problems. We’ve watched Wiley pour (estimated) tens of millions of dollars into building a platform, only to give up and purchase Atypon. We’ve watched Elsevier pour similar (estimated) amounts of money into building Evise, only to give up and purchase Aries. We’ve watched PLOS pour similar (estimated) amounts of money into building Aperta, only to give up and sign on with Aries.

David is talking to a belief in the scholarly publishing sector that publishing workflow platforms are an intractable problem. And yet, so the belief goes, Aries and others, have apparently ‘solved’ this problem.

Well, intractable problems aren’t ones that have been previously solved. So whats going on with this argument?….”

Inventor says Google is patenting work he put in the public domain | Ars Technica

“When Jarek Duda invented an important new compression technique called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) a few years ago, he wanted to make sure it would be available for anyone to use. So instead of seeking patents on the technique, he dedicated it to the public domain. Since 2014, Facebook, Apple, and Google have all created software based on Duda’s breakthrough.

But now Google is seeking a patent that would give it broad rights over the use of ANS for video compression….”

Guest Post: Open Source and Scholarly Publishing – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Today’s guest post is by Adam Hyde, co-founder of the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation (Coko) where he leads technical projects, building platforms, methodologies, and communities to support open source collaborative knowledge production and publication as part of the academic process….”

Harvard upgrades DASH DSpace repository | Atmire

Harvard just upgraded its DSpace repository, DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard). 

Quoting Peter Suber, director of the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication: “We’re very happy with the upgrade to DASH. For nine years we’d been using an early version of DSpace, heavily customized for our needs. It gave us exactly what we wanted and worked beautifully. But the constant tweaking took its toll. The upgrade embraces all our major customizations, reduces our maintenance load, makes it easier for new developers to join the project, and adds features we couldn’t easily have added on our own.”

Towards universal open access? Why we need bibliodiversity rather than a “silver bullet” | SciELO in Perspective

“As a conclusion, too often, the discussion on open access models is sometimes completely confused, sometimes too simplistic, and usually based on undue generalization of local situations and even singular experiences. It doesn’t reflect properly the variety of parameters that influence the way research is practiced and communicated amongst peers and towards societies at large. Therefore, we desperately need a better-informed discussion based on case studies and probably driven by the actor-network theory because it allows for a modelling of how diverse stakeholders interact in the scholarly communication process. Because we need not only open access, but above all open scholarly communication models that serve the actual needs of the research communities and societies to create knowledge and benefit from it, we need an open access model based on bibliodiversity.”

ISCB Public Policy Statement on Open Access to Scientific and Technical Research Literature | Bioinformatics | Oxford Academic

The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) is dedicated to advancing human knowledge at the intersection of computation and life sciences. On behalf of the ISCB members, this public policy statement expresses strong support for open access, reuse, integration, and distillation of the publicly-funded archival scientific and technical research literature, and for the infrastructure to achieve that goal.