Copyright©2010 Antony Williams
I had the privilege of presenting at a Science Commons Symposium this past weekend. (What wasn’t so pleasurable was the red eye home and the body ache I am suffering today!) I’m stealing the list of speakers directly off of the symposium page listing
Stephen Friend - Founder and President of Sage, a non-profit research organization that’s revolutionizing how researchers approach the treatment of disease
Peter Binfield – Publisher of PLoS ONE, an innovative online scientific journal and influencial leader of the open access movement
John Wilbanks – VP of Science Commons, an organization dedicated to making it easier to share scientific data and materials
Heather Joseph – Executive Director at SPARC and champion of Open Access
Antony Williams – VP of Strategic Development for the Royal Society of Chemist, Founder of Chemzoo and a leader in the domain of free access chemistry
Jean-Claude Bradley – Associate Professor of Chemistry at Drexel University and pioneer of the Open Notebook science effort
Cameron Neylon – Open Science evangelist, biophysicist and leading advocate of data availability
Peter Murray-Rust – Founder of Blue Obelisk, a group of chemists dedicated to Open Data, Open Source and Open Standards
I knew a number of the speakers personally but met Heather and Stephen for the first time. There was a clear commonality between the speakers and for the audience..that of having access to, and willingly sharing, data and knowledge. Clearly we are all serving the community in our own ways but there is a common frame of overlap in terms of the urgency with which this needs to be done and the big wins that can result from such efforts. I had met John Wilbanks a number of times but this was the first time I heard him give his talk. For me personally he is a calming voice in regards to terms of licensing and access to data providing a guided tour of the path to the Creative Commons licenses. He introduced a particular statement that fits with ChemSpider “..the goal is the sparking of generative science” and quoted Jonathan Zittrain who said “Generativity is a systems capacity to produce unanticipated change from unfiltered contributions from broad and varied audiences.”.
Boom-boom-pow. Did that ever hit. People have been asking me how is ChemSpider being used and how would I want it to be used. Here’s the answer…I want them to get value from it however they may use it. We cannot foresee all the ways that people might derive value from content on the database. We cannot define how scientists might choose to work together around the information available. There are a myriad of opportunities to discover something of interest on the database and we see a big part of our job to populate the database with data and links to additional information and to provide a searchable hub to access those data. We get emails emoting thanks for helping people to find “XXXX” and we’re happy to know that we helped. As I’ve said many times…there is method in our madness and despite the fact that we know SOME of the ways that our platform can be used it’s the “generativity” that is very exciting and we hope to hear about. That’s the web for you!
My talk from Slideshare is posted below