An appetite for open data…
November 25, 2008 7 Comments
…is what I have encountered here at Antwerp already. I am currently at the annual meeting of the Dutch Polymer Institute, with which I have been associated in various forms over the best part of five years now. We are the guests of Borealis here in Antwerp and as such, it promises to be an interesting meeting. The morning will be taken up with “Golden Thesis Awards”. The DPI evaluates all PhD thesis it funds by scinetific merit and the best PhD students in a year will be given an award. This is followed by an excursion to Borealis and in the afternoon, there will be thematic sessions: “Polymers and Water” and “Polymers and Time”. The former is self explanatory and the latter concerns mainly molecular simulations of polymers at short and long time scales. This is followed by poster sessions and a Borealis hosted dinner in the evening. Tomorrow then we will have several further talks on bio-based polymers, sustainability and solar cells and in the evening a brain-storm sesssion: “What could polymers mean for the bottom of the pyramid?” I like DPI meetings – they are extremely young…most of the participants are PhDs and Post-Docs and always brimming with energy.
In that spirit, I arrived at my hotel last night and sat down for dinner. It didn’t take long before I was surrounded by old and some new acquaintances and we spent the time catching up and discussing what we have been doing. And inevitably the conversaton turned to polymer informatics and open data. There were many questions: “Will extraction of data from a manuscript cause problems with publication later?”, “Why should I trust you and give you my manuscript or thesis to datamine?”, “How does copyright work out?” “What happens to the publishers – why should they not sell my data?” etc. However, all the minds were open. They see the argument for open data and open knowledge and they agree with it in principle, but there is great uncertainty as to the politics and technicalities associated with open data. The moral of the story is: much more talking needs to be done and much more education. Open access and open data evangelists should put together an FAQ for “mere mortals” i.e. researchers who do not think about this all the time and who should not have to think subtly about the differeneces between “gold OA”, “green OA” “libre OA” and what have you. We need to do much more talking to the science community. Let’s start now. And let’s not weaken our position by OA sophistry. I wil try and blog some more as the meeting goes on and hopefully also provide some photos.
PS: You will see some
new and unusual tags at the bottom of this blog post and(UPDATE: no tags apparently) links in the text. I have installed Zemanta to try and make this blog semantically a little richer. The tags and links are autogenerated and I hope the result is worthwhile.