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Wikipedia Year of Science: An Open Opportunity for Participation

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Publishers of peer-reviewed Open Access journals such as PLOS are driven by the realization that, because taxpayers fund the overwhelming majority of biomedical research, there is a moral imperative for the results of this publicly-funded work to be freely and immediately available to those who fund it. In fact, legislators, policymakers and institutions have reached the same conclusion. But what happens to that Open Access scientific content outside the academic or entrepreneurial domain?

In today’s world, there is no reason to limit access to knowledge, and every reason to free it. But the information shared must be reliable, reputable and trusted. This does not mean there is only one perspective or definitive scientific result; research is full of subtleties that inform distinct perspectives and influence final outcomes. What does matter is that science in the public domain, such as content in Wikipedia, is accurate and referenced soundly. Where Wikipedia says “citation required,” PLOS helps create them. PLOS publishes over 30,000 quality peer-reviewed research articles across a broad scope of disciplines each year, and as an Open Access publisher, this trusted research is immediately available for use, reuse and distribution, by anyone with an internet connection.

The Wiki Education Foundation (Wiki Ed) has announced the 2016 Wikipedia Year of Science, an initiative to improve Wikipedia’s potential for communicating science to the public. Through its Classroom Program (where students write Wikipedia articles on class-related topics in place of a traditional research paper) and with collaborations from Wikipedia editors, Wiki Ed will engage scientists to improve the breadth and depth of scientific content on Wikipedia.

Get involved: Find a Wikipedia page on your topic of expertise and match it to a relevant PLOS article. Check out the Year of Science Wiki page and scroll down for the list of monthly themes, then copy/paste the URLs for the Wikipedia and PLOS articles into a form accessible from this survey link. We’ll be sending the information to Edit-A-Thons scheduled throughout the year.

In a Q&A with Tom Porter, Senior Manager of Development at Wiki Ed, PLOS had the opportunity to take a closer look at 2016 Wikipedia Year of Science.

Why this year and why science?

Science is a critical field of education. Wikipedia is enormous, but what you find on Wikipedia is the result of dedicated volunteers. Not every volunteer is interested in writing the kind of content that people search for, or want to learn about, on Wikipedia. That leaves some gaps in public access to knowledge that we think it’s time to tackle.

Since Wikipedia was created 15 years ago, there has been a general warming up of relationships with academics. Often, instructors saw it as a problematic reference material. Now, more often, they see it as an opportunity for student writing. Wiki Ed has worked with 478 instructors at 282 universities, all of whom assigned their students to write for Wikipedia as part of their coursework. “Don’t cite it. Write it!” is the refrain.

In your experience, how do people get over their fear of openly collaborating on public documents such as Wikipedia articles or commenting on existing content through Talk pages? Is it fear, naivety regarding how to do it, or something else?

Many of our students struggle with changing something that’s already on a Wikipedia article – they don’t want to feel bad that they’re rewriting someone else’s content. We spent time in our online training letting students know it’s okay to do so, and we encourage them to post to Talk pages. For many students, this is the first time they’ve worked in public, and they learn a lot about the review and collaboration cycle as they write Wikipedia articles.

Participation and Credit

This is a perfect opportunity for PLOS, with its Open Access content, to reach out to our global contributor community and advance the Open Science movement through improving a vast public resource, increasing article reach, enhancing public awareness of the benefits that Open Access research brings, and accelerating the distribution of research out to the broadest community possible. By increasing access, usability and discovery of trusted information, scientific knowledge made open can propel discovery and innovation. The benefit of participating in the Wikipedia Year of Science is not just greater scientific engagement in public knowledge; it will help “ensure that the next generation of scientists has the skills to explain important scientific principles in a straightforward and effective manner to the general public.”

As organizations, PLOS and Wiki Ed share a common belief in the power of collective knowledge. Both have grown out of communities that recognize the exponential possibilities that Internet connectivity provides, and see the imperative to push that potential for the advantage of humankind. But the desire to do good only works to our advantage as far as it goes; broad community engagement is key. While PLOS and Wiki Ed share a common goal – an open web where communities come together to create, craft, use, reuse and advance critical knowledge – to get there we must understand how to attract communities to participate. New models of doing and publishing science must acknowledge the deep experience of contributors, attribute credit appropriately and retain benefits and rewards for those contributing the original research.

PLOS is not the only organization experimenting with new formats of presenting published work. Wiki Ed recently created Wiki Playlists for personal collections, and PLOS wasted no time in checking it out by creating a Wiki Playlist for PLOS Computational Biology Topic Pages. Examples of open review, post-publication discussion and ongoing dialogue around scientific work, this format allows PLOS authors and editors a collaborative and transparent approach to authoring, reviewing and editing. These articles leverage the capabilities of Wikipedia to expand the reach of research articles and redefine what is published. Authors come to PLOS Computational Biology’s Topic Page editors with content suggestions, and work together to produce a trustworthy, peer-reviewed article for the journal through an open review process that is also posted to Wikipedia for community updating. Once revised and accepted, the articles’ transparent peer review process is preserved by publishing the work – as both a journal article and a Wikipedia page – together with the peer reviews and author responses. PLOS believes that access to the work on Wikipedia increases visibility and invites discussion. Eight Topic Pages have been created to date with Wikipedia versions of articles updated as discoveries are made, allowing the research record to evolve.  There is mutual benefit from new content: Wikipedia is made more robust through the incorporation of peer-reviewed articles, and PLOS authors benefit from the increased reach of their work. This program is ongoing at PLOS and additional Topic Pages are scheduled for release before the end of the year. A revised Wiki Playlist will be created.

Get involved: Tweet about the Wiki Playlist; Wiki Ed asks to include #wikiplaylist in your tweet, for example,

.@PLOSCompBiol #wikiplaylist Open review &post-pub discussion available at @PLOS where #OpenAccess is the norm http://playlist.wiki/playlist/plos-computational-biology-topics or

.@PLOSCompBiol #wikiplaylist Open review, post-pub discussion & ongoing dialogue available in @PLOS articles where Open Access is the norm http://playlist.wiki/playlist/plos-computational-biology-topics

Of course, innovative tools are only part of the story. Their success depends on community and collaboration. Wikipedia is successful in part because of the massive scale of its contributions and contributors. PLOS, through communities and new forums for communicating science, strives to develop its own large-scale, engaged communities. Watch this space for more ways to get involved.

 

Image Credit: Titz B, Rajagopala SV, Goll J, Häuser R, McKevitt MT et al. PLOS ONE. 2008. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002292

Active OER: Beyond open licensing policies

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eBook” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by  Jonas Tana 

 

This is a guest blog post written by Alek Tarkowski, Director of Centrum Cyfrowe and co-founder of Creative Commons Poland. On April 14, 2016, 60 experts from 30 countries are meeting in Kraków, Poland for the first OER Policy Forum. The goal of the event is to build on the foundations for OER strategy development and define collective paths towards greater, active OER adoption.

 

In 2015, the Polish government launched an online repository of open, Creative Commons Attribution-licensed e-textbooks, covering the core curriculum for primary and lower secondary education. After five years, open education activists finally saw their advocacy work bear fruit. In parallel, the government changed the textbook funding model, which translated into massive cost savings for parents and students.

With this goal achieved, we ask ourselves: is our work done? Or is this just the first step in fully achieving the potential for Open Educational Resources (OER) in education? Do we just need textbooks that parents and students don’t have to pay for, or do we need educators and learners actively engaging with resources, and trying out new pedagogies?

The issue surfaces from time to time in discussions on OER policies, but not often enough. We need to move beyond strategies that ensure open availability of content, and supplement them with active policies that support engagement of educators and learners with open resources. Scale of usage, and not just the number of available resources, should be our key metric of success.

Just free, or also open?

In February, at the annual meeting of the OER community, organised by the Hewlett Foundation, David Wiley and John Hilton III organised a discussion on “free vs. open”. The terminology itself was a bit confusing, because by “free” they meant “freely available”, and by “open” they meant allowing the “5 Rs” of active reuse of content. Such use of terms would cause a violent outburst from any orthodox Free Software advocate, since that community has clear definitions of “libre” and “gratis”. But the strange choice of key terms made sense in a way—it drew our attention from the typical way we have been naming things to the problem at heart of OER developments.

We’ve spent too much time arguing about the virtues of “libre” vs. “gratis”, which usually are rooted in moral arguments centered around the value of freedom. Not enough effort has been made to relate the value of OER to real-life educational challenges and the  everyday practices of educators and learners. The OER movement, like much of the open movement, has not paid enough attention to the actual value that openly-licensed resources provide to their users—in such as way that is defined in more precise terms than a potential for greater personal freedom. (This issue has been raised by John Wilbanks in his keynote at the OpenEd conference in 2014).

Wiley and Hilton rightly asked participants of the discussion: what do we gain from policies that lead to the provision of freely available resources? And how do we support open use of resources? The conversation is timely: OER policies are gaining important footholds in the United States. On the one hand, the federal government is committing to making openly available the educational content funded with public tax dollars. Also, at the state level—in particular colleges—educational systems are switching from proprietary to open resources, with the “Z degree” (zero resource cost college degree) leading the way. Using the terms of the debate, these are “gratis”, but not necessarily “libre” policies.

Strong and weak forms of open policies

The same challenge became clear to me over the last five years, as the Polish government has been implementing its open textbooks program. In 2011, Poland adopted a strong open model, which ensures legal openness (through open licensing), technical openness (for example use of open formats and dealing with accessibility issues) and which makes content available with no costs for end users. Polish open textbooks are available for free, in open formats, and under an open license. This is different from a weak open model, in which open licensing is not used.

This weak open model has been for almost two decades at the heart of the Open Access model of scientific publishing, in which academic research articles published in scholarly journals are made available to freely access and read (without carrying a specific open license), typically after an embargo period. Yet in recent years we see a shift toward strong openness in Open Access publishing. This has been explicitly expressed through the re-formulation of principles at the 10th Anniversary of the Budapest Open Access Initiative.

Open licensing ensures strong openness by ensuring, through legal means, rights defined in the educational sphere by Wiley’s “5 Rs”. Recommendations to do so are based on a very well developed argument that goes back to Richard Stallman’s thinking on user freedoms, and Lawrence Lessig’s idea of remix as core activity for free culture. But while reuse of code is a common practice in computer programming, reuse of educational content remains an elusive phenomenon. Open licensing advocates usually argue on the basis of future gains: we need to provide a reuse potential by removing legal barriers so that one day we can see novel types of reuse happen. The challenge our community faces is whether the positive changes advocates say will be realized by adopting strong open policies (i.e. policies that deliberately contain an open licensing mandate) can be observed quickly enough in order to validate their development and implementation. Without solid data on why strong open models are needed, they might be evaluated as overly challenging or ineffective.

We need to remember that strong openness is much more controversial than its weak form. In Poland, the willingness of the government to support a strong open policy led to a conflict with a strong lobby of educational publishers. The controversy focused solely on legal issues around ownership of content – and would have been easily solved by adopting a weak policy model (which the Polish government refused to do, fortunately).

Free or Open? Wrong question?

Making the distinction between “libre” and “gratis” (or “free” and “open”, to use terminology proposed by Wiley and Hilton) is a first, important step. Only then we become aware that there is more to OER policies than just open licensing requirements. It becomes possible to define a spectrum of policies through which educational change happens thanks to openly shared and reused resources.

Yet this does not mean that we need to choose between one strategy or the other. Lowering textbook and materials costs for parents and students has been an important aspect of the education policy introduced in Poland. Similarly, open licensing is an important standard for public funding of educational resources and  should remain core to any impactful OER policy. These are important policies, with the potential of introducing greater equality into the educational system.

But we need to be aware that such a policy, on its own, is a “passive” one if we consider broader goals defined by the open education movement. It’s one that creates only potential action for further change. We need to ask the question, what is happening to content that we have openly provided? And build policies that later support not just passive provision of OER, but their active reuse.

Mapping paths toward open education

Reuse is not something that can only happen “in the wild” once the adequate conditions are created. In fact, such organic reuse is quite rare. Although we lack empirical data, I would assume that less than 5% of users is willing to modify content, remix it, create own versions and mash-ups.

If we agree that empowerment and engagement of educators and learners is an important goal, we need to implement active policies that build on and support the potential ensured by passive ones. These could include incentives for teachers to create, reuse and share OER, investing in repositories and other types of infrastructure for discovery and analytics of content, or paying attention to digital literacy of teachers and formulation of new pedagogies. Developing, testing and implementing such active policies in educational systems around the world has to compliment efforts to open resources.

Almost five years after the signing of the Paris OER Declaration and ten years after the foundational meeting in Cape Town, it is time to define new strategies. For the last few years, I have been advocating for the definition of such “paths to open education”. In response, I’ve often heard that education is too varied for such standard scenarios to be defined. But if we want policies that support active reuse of OERs, then we need to define such standard paths. It is clear to me that these would be useful for policymakers asking the same questions. And the answers to some of these questions might even be easier than focusing most of our efforts and outreach on open licensing.

The post Active OER: Beyond open licensing policies appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

New Open Education Search App by OpenEd.com and Microsoft

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A new Open Education Search App is available as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign, a commitment by 14 states and 40 districts to transition to the use of high-quality, openly-licensed educational resources in their schools. The search app pulls in data from the Learning Registry and works within any Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) compliant Learning Management System. The Open Education Search App enables educators and other users within these districts to search for and assign OER directly within an LMS. Current search filters include subject, grade, topic, and individual standard (eg. Common Core, NGSS, Texas TEKS). Information about the CC license status of the resource is also displayed. The app is available now on the EduAppCenter; you can also check out a screenshot of how it looks below.

In addition to the Open Education Search App, Creative Commons license integration and search is available on Microsoft’s Docs.com. Both OpenEd.com and Microsoft are #GoOpen platform partners working to create the environment where educators and students can access the tools, content and expertise necessary to thrive in a connected world. Creative Commons will continue to work closely with both to integrate CC license choice and content discovery across platforms.

Learn more about Creative Commons work with platforms: https://creativecommons.org/platform/.

 

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Help Us Build Creative Commons Certificates – Open Community Call

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With Creative Commons now being used by people all over the world to openly license over a billion pieces of content, a good working knowledge of what Creative Commons is and how it works is critical.

Creative Commons is developing a series of certificates to provide organizations and individuals with a range of options for increasing knowledge and use of Creative Commons.

The Creative Commons Master Certificate will define the full body of knowledge and skills needed to master CC. This master certificate will be of interest to those who need a broad and deep understanding of all things Creative Commons.

In addition, custom certificates are being designed for specific types of individuals and organizations. Initially Creative Commons is focusing on creating a specific CC Certificate for 1. educators, 2. government, and 3. librarians. The CC Certificate for each of these will include a subset of learning outcomes from the overall CC Master Certificate along with new learning outcomes specific to each role.

All certificates will include both a modular set of learning materials that can be used independently for informal learning, and a formal, structured and facilitated certificate the can be taken for official certification.

CC is grateful for initial support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Institute for Museum and Library Services who have provided funding for the development of the CC Master Certificate and specialized versions for educators, government, and librarians.

Creative Commons is seeking to engage the entire open community in the development of these certificates.

Sandcastles by Neil Turner CC BY-SA 

We plan to design and develop the certificates openly on the web in a way that allows for public input and contribution. We currently are experimenting with making all the certificate designs available for review and edit through GitHub and other tools.

In addition we are looking to tap into as much subject matter expertise as possible through the formation of  certificate working groups. A working group of Creative Commons staff has been formed to provide subject matter expertise on the CC Master Certificate. We’re also reaching out through our networks to form working groups with librarians, educators and government to ensure the specialized certificates are relevant and appropriately targeted to each group.

A Creative Commons Certificate librarian working group is being formed through coordinated outreach in consultation with organizations like the American Library Association, Digital Public Library of America, and SPARC.

The government and educator versions of the certificate are being created to satisfy needs that emerged out of the US Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) grant and the 700+ community colleges who are grantees. Creative Commons is reaching out to these and others for expertise on the government and educator versions of the certificate.

A working group of participants from across Creative Commons global affiliate network has also been formed to help ensure initial work takes into consideration internationalization and localization.

If you’d like to be actively involved in any of these working groups let us know.

Certificates will be created as Creative Commons licensed Open Educational Resources reusing and remixing as many existing openly licensed resources as possible. We’re looking to aggregate, adopt, and adapt existing materials as much as possible and only develop new content for areas where nothing already exists. We’ll be inviting you to identify all materials you’re aware of and map them to certificate learning outcomes.

Rather than focusing our initial efforts on content development we’ll instead focus on defining learning outcomes along with associated activities and assessments that effectively test those outcomes. Our aim is to have assessments be 100% performance-based, testing people on their ability to use Creative Commons in applied and practical ways. One form of activity and assessment will include having certificate participants create actual certificate content as OER. Co-creation with participants will build up a pool of community created Creative Commons Certificate content, targeted to learning outcomes, in many different languages, localized to different parts of the world, and curated by Creative Commons.

If you have thoughts, resources, or interest in helping out please let us know.

We currently have a submission in to the Knight Foundation’s “How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?” challenge brief. If successful, we plan to engage working groups of librarians in multi-day sprint workshops to do everything from co-defining learning outcomes, to identifying existing CC related openly licensed curricula, beta testing curricula, and defining optimal modes of delivery and duration. If you think that is a good idea or want to be part of those sprints we invite you to express interest by sharing your comments here Creative Commons (CC) Certificate for Librarians.

In future development, Creative Commons is planning for a train-the-trainer certification which will authorize others to deliver Creative Commons certificates on its behalf in different parts of the world. We welcome expressions of interest from other organizations wanting to work with us on this.

As CC embarks on its strategy to “foster a vibrant, usable, and collaborative global commons”, Creative Commons certificates will play a critical role in ensuring participation scales in informed and skilled ways.

The post Help Us Build Creative Commons Certificates – Open Community Call appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

Where Next for PLOS: Working Together to Make Waves in Scientific Communication

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What began as a ripple with the goal to make research accessible and free has propagated into over 157 funder and 500 university policies that provide millions of readers around the world increasing opportunities to make important, positive impacts on global health, scientific discovery, policy and education. This wave of Open Access–and now Open Science–moving through the scientific community has created a scientific publishing ecosystem that spreads beyond researchers, reviewers, editors and funders to include technologists, institutions, patients, entrepreneurs and librarians.

Concomitantly, the pieces of the research puzzle have become more complex: multimedia data, web-searchable genomic datasets and real-time online discussions alter the way people work, communicate and cooperate. The internet has driven a shift from readership to engagement, from the sole operator to an invigorated community, from hierarchical to networked feedback and from static publication to dynamic updates. This increasing complexity has resulted in insufficient coordination and integration of processes, making the sharing of research burdensome. Science, technology and medical (STM) journal publishers have struggled to fully leverage the potential of innovation and evolving work styles to enable and facilitate science communication.

Responsible Disruption

Traditional publishing is inadequate for the communication of science, as demonstrated by the increasing number of options that provide rapid routes to publication in alternative forms. Calls to disrupt the constraints of traditional publishing are constant and gaining in strength. At the same time, publishers and others are working to ensure that proposed reforms and innovations do not compromise the values of documentation, curation, and prioritization, sharing, archiving and integrity. The public relies on the belief that content published in peer-reviewed journals is trustworthy, despite the fact that this is too often not the case. We must do better. All stakeholders, including publishers, are accountable.

With these cautions in mind, it is critical for publishers such as PLOS to lead change and innovate to support the research enterprise. PLOS has a history of openness and innovation at scale that, when combined with engaged and collaborative stakeholders willing to provide feedback, have facilitated a revolution in research communication.

Shaping the Future

PLOS has redefined the publishing model and proved that making quality research openly available for anyone to read, download and reuse is a viable business model. PLOS redefined the concept of the journal and ignited change with the groundbreaking PLOS ONE —a forum for publishing all sound science and providing an expansive scope for researchers’ work. PLOS has redefined “influence” beyond the limitations of journal metrics with PLOS Article-Level Metrics that reveal a snapshot of an article’s influence and value before accumulation of citations and over time. PLOS is redesigning the discussion and extending article reach with The PLOS Blogs Network, PLOS Communities and the PLOS Science Wednesday on redditscience Ask Me Anything series. These opportunities move the discussion into the open to support a public dialogue that distributes knowledge, helps tell the story behind the research and fosters community for the benefit of working scientists and the general public.

PLOS is actively furthering its mission to accelerate science and medicine–from research and discovery to influence tracking and community building–through a suite of proposed new initiatives:

  • Ahead-of-publication posting and alternative forms of outputs for rapid dissemination of important research with consideration for integrity, quality and reproducibility
  • Collaborative and open peer review with broad community involvement, appropriate recognition and accountability
  • Priority submission in the case of public health emergencies
  • Advocacy for a shift within academia, industry, funding agencies and elsewhere to transform not just processes but also culture and credit

PLOS is also pursuing how pre-print servers might best serve the community while simultaneously building a more efficient manuscript submission system that provides flexibility for different author working styles, and streamlined submissions with enhanced automations and improved author, reviewer and editor collaboration.

“We are determined to drive progress toward Open Science by providing the community with a publishing experience that fully leverages the technical potential to advance science fast, openly and with broad participation,” says PLOS Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Marincola.

Merging Tides

PLOS cannot do this alone. Publishers, editors and reviewers wield only a fraction of the power to shift the tide.

“Together with authors, funders and other visionary leaders across sectors, we must act now. When we reach this potential, we will boost confidence in the scientific enterprise, from reproducibility to publication to reward,” says Marincola.

As with all transformative thinking and shifting behaviors, this process will not happen in one large splash. There will be ripples of innovation and shifting behaviors that disperse outward, sometimes quickly and other times less so. These ripples will intersect with those of like-minded organizations and innovators to once again push the boundaries of scientific publishing. Watch this space for news and updates as we continue to refine the definition, evaluation and recognition of scientific work. PLOS aspires to put researchers back at the center of science communication, working in the best interests of all stakeholders—for the benefit of science and of future generations.

 

Image Credit: Gerd Altman, Pixabay.com

Reporting back on the Institute for Open Leadership 2

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The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway by Alessandro Sarretta, CC BY

Last week Creative Commons hosted the second Institute for Open Leadership. The Institute is a training and peer-to-peer learning opportunity that brings together up-and-coming leaders to develop and implement an open licensing policy in their institution, province or nation. We were thrilled to welcome a diverse group of fellows from 14 countries to Cape Town, South Africa.

  • Jane-Frances Agbu – National Open University of Nigeria – Nigeria
  • Rim Azib – British Council, Tunis – Tunisia
  • Steve Cairns – Greenpeace International – Netherlands
  • Amanda Coolidge – BCcampus – Canada
  • Daniel DeMarte – Tidewater Community College – United States
  • Paula Eskett – CORE Education – New Zealand
  • Mostafa Azad Kamal – Bangladesh Open University – Bangladesh
    Roshan Kumar Karn – Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital – Nepal
  • Vincent Kizza – Open Learning Exchange Uganda – Uganda
  • Fiona MacAllister – University of the Witwatersrand – South Africa
  • Katja Mayer – University of Vienna – Austria
  • Caroline Mbogo – The World Agroforestry Centre – Kenya
  • Niall McNulty – Cambridge University Press – South Africa
  • Juliana Monteiro – Museu da Imigração do Estado de São Paulo – Brazil
  • Alessandro Sarretta – Institute of Marine Sciences – Italy

In addition to the fellows, we invited seven mentors with open policy expertise from various open sectors. We even brought back two IOL #1 fellows (Klaudia Grabowska and David Ernst) to be mentors at this year’s Institute.

Prior to arriving in Cape Town, all of the fellows proposed an open policy project, which they then developed with their mentors and other fellows during the week. A natural focus for the week was understanding open licensing and the potential for open policies to expand public access to knowledge, data, culture, and research around the world. But licensing is not the only component to a successful open policy adoption. Much of the week involved hearing how openness is perceived within different sectors and institutions, and coming up with strategies and tactics for addressing the important social, cultural, and technological challenges to open policy adoption.

IOL2 session by Kelsey, CC BY

In addition to learning and working with the mentors and other fellows, there were several interesting speakers that came to talk with the group, including Adam Haupt and Caroline Ncube from the University of Cape Town, Mark Horner from Siyavula, Ralph Borland with Africa Robots, and Barbara Chow, TJ Bliss, and Dana Schmidt from the Hewlett Foundation.  

Over the coming months, the Institute fellows will share regular updates here about their projects, including the progress they are making in implementing open licensing policies within their institutions and governments.

Thank you to Paul Stacey and Kelsey Wiens—who helped facilitate the week-long workshop—and to Kelsey in particular, who helped arrange all the logistics for the meeting in Cape Town. We also appreciate the assistance from the Open Policy Network and the ongoing support from the William and Flora Hewlett and the Open Society Foundations in making the Institute for Open Leadership possible.

IOL2 fellows and mentors by Cable Green, CC BY

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Creative Commons Turkey Joins the CC Affiliate Network

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Creative Commons Türkiye Lansmanı (CC BY-SA)

Last week, on March 11 2016, Creative Commons Turkey was officially launched during an event at Özyeğin University in Istanbul. Creative Commons is extremely proud and happy to have CC Turkey join the affiliate network, and we want to congratulate the whole team for their efforts over the last year to accomplish this.

We hope and expect that the CC Turkey team will play a pivotal role in the region, and we are looking forward to working with them on the translation of the licenses into Turkish and for the organisation of CC-related events!

Hoşgeldiniz CC Türkiye!
-Gwen Franck, Regional Coordinator Europe

Reposted from Creative Commons Türkiye:

The Creative Commons Turkey launch event was held in Özyeğin University on Friday, March 11 with the theme of #shareyourcreativity. The event featured a large number of guests including legal professionals, IT experts, researchers, educators and librarians.

We are pleased to announce that Creative Commons Turkey is now a part of the global CC community.

The event offered a rich program of exciting, horizon-broadening speeches and enlightening discussions. In the spotlight of the discussions of open society, free society and copyrights reform and culture of sharing which Creative Commons represents and is therefore a natural part of it. The use of Creative Commons licenses will make great contributions to the development of these dynamics in Turkey. The launch event was a step towards identifying the points of resistance and gaps in adopting the culture of sharing in the Turkish society and building a legal infrastructure for it.

Sharing and dissemination of intellectual, cultural and artistic outputs to wider audiences are unprecedented elements of a creative, innovative, well-educated, sophisticated and free society. In recognition of this fact, Creative Commons Turkey, under the leadership of Özyeğin University, will continue to work unflaggingly to enable and promote the use of CC licenses in collaboration with all stakeholders. You may follow up on our activities at creativecommons.org.tr and @ccturkiye.

We invite you all to share your creativity with CC licenses.

Please visit the program page for the presentations and videos of the Creative Commons Turkey launch event. [Photos from the event are available on Flickr.]

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Collaboration with IBM Watson Supports the Value Add of Open Access

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In this massively data rich world, the equilibrium between information and knowledge has increasingly shifted from knowledge toward information. Advanced text and data mining (TDM) is not yet ubiquitous and even if it were, not all content is structured enough to leverage TDM potential. In developing the supercomputer Watson with the ability to process, analyze and extract information from natural language such as PLOS article text, IBM is beginning to shift the equilibrium back to knowledge.

Understanding Relationships

PLOS and IBM Watson are collaborating to bring quality Open Access biomedical literature to healthcare entrepreneurs and innovators, and to do so in a way that provides full article content and context including PubMed citation information from the National Library of Medicine.

The collaboration is “not just about PLOS or Open Access,” says PLOS Chief Technology Officer CJ Rayhill, “it’s about improved healthcare through immediate access to relevant clinical, translational and basic biomedical discoveries documented in the peer-reviewed literature.”

For the past year, IBM Watson has been ingesting PLOS article content directly from PubMed Central, beginning with PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine. This large collection of content is then used by IBM Watson in two ways, direct and indirect. In direct and immediate use, structured metadata as well as concepts extracted from article text are put to an algorithm by IBM Watson to obtain insights into relationships that might improve the way medicine is practiced in the clinic or hospital, at point of care. Used indirectly, developers of software applications create programs that extract customized information and concepts from PLOS articles—or any other large collection of text.

Accelerating Discovery

Watson’s ability to analyze massive amounts of information means it can keep up – faster and better than any human brain – with advances reported in scientific journals. The future may lie in the possibility that in the same way clinicians are beginning to use mobile apps to guide medical treatment decisions, scientists will use an app to help map their own research discovery pathways, based on the entire text of Open Access literature in PubMed Central. In this way, Open Access articles provide entrepreneurs the reliable biomedical information they need to develop digital healthcare, translational medicine and even research breakthroughs. The conversation between PLOS and IBM Watson is one more example of PLOS accelerating research progress and transforming research communication–through collaboration.

PLOS helped IBM Watson project leaders understand important differences in Open Access biomedical literature–not all Open Access is created equal. PLOS advised in the training of IBM Watson to understand research article content and to recommend that as IBM Watson moves to ingest additional scientific data from PubMed Central, key contextual information is maintained, including DOIs and links to cited literature. Importantly, through inclusion of Open Access articles, entrepreneurs will benefit from the ability of Watson to provide a complete picture of research results as presented in an article, with the context of those results maintained relevant to the body of Open Access literature cross-referenced within the article. For the sake of limited time and brainpower, you and I might restrict our reading to an article’s abstract. Watson doesn’t have those problems.

A collaboration between PLOS and IBM might seem out of place. But it’s important to appreciate, says Rayhill, that “information and insights contained in Open Access publications have value in commercial applications.” Those at the forefront of clinical care, biomedical research or policy development can access this knowledge and benefit from improved decision making.

Image Credit: parameter_bond, Flickr.com

New Job Opportunities at Creative Commons

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Women In Tech – 115 by WOCinTech Chat, CC BY-SA 2.0

I’m very excited to share three new job postings with Creative Commons today, supporting three essential areas of our work: technology, communications, and fundraising. It’s a very exciting time for CC: we have new revenues, a new strategy, and a growing Commons and an energetic movement around the world. There is new energy, a great staff, and so much potential, but we need add to our team to be successful. Below is a summary of the new positions with links to the postings.

Director of Engineering

Responsible for all aspects of CC’s technology infrastructure and product and service development, the Director of Engineering will lead our existing dev team to build a more vibrant, usable global commons, powered by collaboration and gratitude. We want to light up the Commons — make it more discoverable, usable, and connected. This is the opportunity: to build products and services — both standalone and within our partner platforms — that will bring the commons to life with greater use, re-use, and contribution.

Communications Manager

Focused on the production and distribution of communication materials that expand CC’s reach and increase the size of our community, the Communications Manager will create innovative, compelling communications that grow and connect communities of creators who want to share. You’ll help us put the best of the Commons front and centre, and show the benefits of sharing and collaboration in all the communities in which we work.

Development Manager

This position is focused on fundraising from foundation and government sources to meet our annual revenue goals. The job includes research, data management, reporting, and copy writing. Our new strategy is ambitious, and your opportunity is to support our team with the resources they need to achieve these goals. Your contribution will be vital to the success of the organization and our global community.

There are a few more hires in the queue this year: one in UX and one in event planning, which will likely go up in the summer. It’s a really exciting time to join CC, and an important time for the free culture and open knowledge movements around the world. Please share the posts, and help us find great people to join our team.

One final note: As today is International Women’s Day, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how much I believe that our organizations are better when they have women’s voices and leadership featured prominently. Our CC staff today is 42 percent women, and 60 percent of our team at director level and above are women. But we can do better, and when we do, our work and our movement will be better as a result — all the data says so.

When drafting these postings, we did a final round of revisions in response to insights about how different genders approach a call for applications. Research suggests that women often choose not to apply for a position based on the requirements they don’t have, while men tend to apply regardless. Some have suggested this is a problem women should fix, which to me is about as backwards as saying women get paid systemically less for the same work because they don’t ask the right way. I think it’s a challenge for Creative Commons to address, and for me personally — ensuring we ask for everything we do need, and nothing we don’t. If we can’t hire talented, qualified women, that’s our fault, not the fault of talented, qualified women.

You can help: have a look at these postings and if you know a bright, creative woman who wants to change the world with us, encourage her to apply. If that person is you, we can’t wait to hear from you.

 

Stock photo from the excellent Women of Color in Tech, that shares CC-licensed stock images, perfect for just this kind of post. We love them.

The post New Job Opportunities at Creative Commons appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

Happy Open Education Week!

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Open Education Week 2016 Banner, by: Open Education Consortium, CC BY 4.0

Happy Open Education Week everyone!

Open Education Week is an annual convening of the global open education movement to share ideas, new open education projects and to raise awareness about open education and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide.

Join this weeklong celebration of the benefits of free and open sharing in education.

Creative Commons is actively participating with:

Be sure to share your Open Education Week activities with: #openeducationwk

What events are you planning this week?

The post Happy Open Education Week! appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

World Without Waste? Appropedia and the Sustainability Commons

Creativecommons.org -

The guest post below was written by Erik Moeller of Passionate Voices, a collaborative blog that hosts interviews with interesting makers, writers, thinkers, and artists from all over the world.

The global maker movement is known for creative hacks, as well as for getting people of all ages excited about technology and how the world works. At the intersection of maker communities and social activism, we find remarkable projects like Open Source Ecology, WikiHouse, and the topic of this article: Appropedia.

Appropedia is not a specific effort to use technology for good, but rather a global community documenting collaborative solutions for sustainability, appropriate technology, poverty reduction, and permaculture. You can think of it as a “Wikipedia for sustainability” and, indeed, it uses similar underlying mechanics: the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License and the MediaWiki software, for starters.

Appropedia co-founder Lonny Grafman (sitting, right) at the Las Malvinas photovoltaic workshops, where participants become the teachers and install solar power for a public pharmacy. License: CC BY-SA

Lonny Grafman, an an instructor at Humboldt State University in Northern California, founded Appropedia in 2006. Today it has thousands of pages on topics as diverse as solar cookers, thermal curtains, and rainwater harvesting. It is available in eight languages, including the beginnings of a Kiswahili edition.

The wiki is a tool for communities of practice that are looking to achieve real-world impact. At Humboldt State, Grafman founded a program called Practivistas. “In the Practivistas program, we bring students from the US and other countries to live and work with students in another country, in communities of little resources,” Grafman explains.

Practivistas don’t approach communities with a predetermined problem or solution. Instead, projects like a classroom constructed using locally sourced materials and alternative building methods are planned and implemented together with local communities from start to finish. In this case, plastic bottles were used as one of the primary materials for the classroom walls.

A beach bag made from plastic waste as part of the Arroyo Norte waste plastic innovation project. License: CC BY-SA

Projects are documented in Appropedia so that other communities may benefit. Beyond Practivistas, students from courses at Humboldt and other universities contribute content to the wiki through what’s called service learning. Explains Grafman: “It’s this thing that sits between and hopefully a little bit above internship, which is about student learning, and volunteerism, which is about the target community getting needs met.”

Grafman argues that engaging students in building the commons is better for the students, too: “My experience is that students learn more. Even just by motivation. When you’re doing something real, that has real impacts, there’s just a lot more motivation to do it right.”

In addition to his work on Appropedia, Grafman is interested in ways to reduce humanity’s energy use. He co-founded a company, Nexi, which makes energy monitors for the home. It’s a for-profit, and parts of the tech will remain proprietary, while Nexi may contribute to a commons of open data about energy use: “The good news is that we really don’t have to be puritanical about anything as diverse solutions will actually build more resilience.”

Appropedia, meanwhile, is hiring an Executive Director, to make the sustainability commons itself sustainable in the long run. No matter what the future holds, as a repository of creative solutions for addressing the problems all around us, Appropedia has already demonstrated that an information commons can directly improve people’s lives.

You can learn more about the project’s goals, and read the full interview I conducted with Lonny Grafman on Passionate Voices.

Erik Moeller (@xirzon), PassionateVoices.org

The post World Without Waste? Appropedia and the Sustainability Commons appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

Jonathan Barnbrook on his CC-licensed art for David Bowie’s Blackstar

Creativecommons.org -

Jonathan Barnbrook is a world-renowned artist who has worked extensively in a variety of media including film, typography, and graphic design. He was also a close collaborator of David Bowie, and created the cover artwork for the musician’s last four albums. Sadly, Bowie died in January, just two days after the release of his final studio album, Blackstar (aka ★). The record, which has gone on to become a commercial and critical hit, was intended by Bowie to be a “parting gift” to fans.

As an homage to his friend and creative collaborator, Barnbrook decided to take the “gift” concept to the next level. He released the artwork for Blackstar under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license, so that it could be shared and remixed noncommercially by Bowie fans around the world.

We recently had the opportunity to talk to Barnbrook about choosing to make the Blackstar art available in this fashion. It was great to hear how much the notions of tribute and gratitude played into his decision to use a CC license for this project.

Blackstar by Barnbrook, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

What inspired you to offer the Blackstar art to the public for reuse and remix?

I felt a public, more “official” gesture was needed to empathize with the grief many people were suffering [as a result of David Bowie’s death]. I had seen a lot of tattoos and use of the artwork, so I wanted to give these people something to remember David by without them thinking they were using the artwork illegally or secretly in some way. I was as upset as they were, so the artwork was released in the positive spirit of sharing and understanding what they were going through.

People belittle collective public grief, which is a bit silly because a person can be the conduit of an ideology or philosophy of an age. I think [the grief] has been so enormous for David because he represented being who you wanted to be in a society where people are often not given the chance to do that. He gave hope and expression to many who didn’t fit in or who were not where they quite wanted to be, so when he was gone it was understandable that people felt a great sense of loss.

I also feel that music is very underrated in terms of importance in people’s lives. In an immediate sense it doesn’t help a war situation or save someone’s life, but it is very life affirming. It can help you through depression, express the moments of absolute joy, be a symbol of an age or philosophy. So again, it is understandable that you’d grieve when the person who expressed these things for you in the intangible form of music is no longer there to be part of your life.

I always felt that it was an incredible responsibility and privilege whenever I worked on David’s covers. So I understood that this would be an appropriate thing to do.

A portrait of Jonathan Barnbrook … by Cyberuly, CC BY 2.5

Why did you specifically choose a Creative Commons license to encourage people to share and remix the artwork?

It is a very well-thought-out, simple system that everybody knows and can understand. The licenses can be read in depth or understood simply on the website. It made it clear that people could use it in the way they wanted without affecting the commercial aspect of the album sales.

Was releasing the art in this way something you’d considered doing before Bowie’s death?

I talked about this with David before he died and he thought it was a great idea, although I couldn’t have imagined the sad circumstances under which I would eventually do it. It came from when the album The Next Day came out—the fans took the white square on the cover and used it in their own way. It was something which I didn’t calculate but it made me extremely happy that they wanted to use, respond, and be part of it too. I felt this needed to be thought of at a fundamental level for the release of Blackstar, that the old model of a record company releasing the record and copyrighting everything so fans could not react or add their own interpretation was wrong. It shouldn’t be such a one-sided experience and instead should show respect and understanding for those people who love the music. The music is still the property of the record company and that is not affected, this just means that people can have their own identification with the release and what Bowie meant to them. When he died I felt that it was even more important that we should do this, especially since a lot of people had specifically asked me for the artwork without any intention of making money from it.

Since I released the artwork I have received so many lovely messages thanking me for it and saying what it means to be able to use the artwork to remember David by. Really it has brought a tear to my eye each time I have read them.

Have you seen any interesting uses or remixes of the art yet?

People are incorporating the Ziggy Stardust stripe in with it, which I think is great. That is an amazing graphic and to feel that the Blackstar [art] is of equal meaning is an honor.

How an artist has affected your life is an intensely personal, unique experience. One of the reasons that we used the Creative Commons license allowing derivatives was because of this. It is important that people interpret [art] in their own way and that they feel free to do it. It is not something that should be dictated by me—I just created one of the components to do it.

And what kind of things do you hope people do with the art?

Quite simply: show their love and appreciation of David Bowie.

How did you first learn about Creative Commons licenses?

It has always been on my radar. It was one of the first prominent models of sharing creativity in a way that didn’t fit in with the existing models of “commercial or not commercial” for artworks. There needs to be a room to share which is above and beyond what is monetary value. Humanity is not built on money—it is built on the meaningful exchange between people.

How have openness and sharing influenced your work and creative process generally?

I think it has been fundamental to it. In addition to working in music, [my creative studio] has done a lot of activist work—and that is about ideas. The spreading of those ideas is fundamental to their success. We have made a lot of them free for people to use and we will be shortly be using Creative Commons again for artworks on our new website soon.

The post Jonathan Barnbrook on his CC-licensed art for David Bowie’s Blackstar appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

PLOS 2015 Reviewer Thank You

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2016 is shaping up to be a notable year for PLOS; it’s the organization’s 15th Anniversary of its founding as a nonprofit and the 10th Anniversary of the groundbreaking journal PLOS ONE. Before looking too far ahead though, it’s important to reflect on the previous year and thank the enormous pool of reviewers who do the work of ensuring that every manuscript submitted to PLOS receives an unbiased and constructive review.

In 2015, PLOS published more than 31,000 articles; each one required participation from at least one of the 85,000+ contributors involved in the peer review process across the PLOS suite of journals. This reviewer community plays an integral role in advancing science by providing trusted, quality contributions to the publication process through expert evaluation of submitted work and productive feedback to authors.

Each journal editorial team—PLOS ONE, PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Genetics, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases and PLOS Pathogens—has published a Thank You, together with a list of reviewers in a Supporting Information file as a citable article for reviewers to include in their CVs. We value the time, expertise and insight of reviewers, the essential role they play in the scientific community and their commitment to bring trusted scientific research to the public.

These citable items are part of our efforts to improve recognition and credit for substantial contributions to the scientific enterprise. It is our hope that reviewers will include these citations on their CVs and resumes, and that those responsible for tenure, promotion and hiring decisions will acknowledge and value this credit.

This coming year PLOS will bring additional improvements to the way authors, reviewers and staff work together, leveraging advances in digital technologies that continue to alter the way people work, communicate and cooperate. With the diligence and dedication of the entire PLOS Contributor Community—from authors and funders to editors and reviewers—we can accelerate the time from discovery to publication and extend the means by which scientists share their ideas.

To each and every one of our more than 85,000 reviewers who make this possible, thank you for all you do.

Sincerely,

Véronique Kiermer, Executive Editor

The flip side of copyright

Creativecommons.org -

Fair Use Week 2016 is here, and we’re happy to celebrate it alongside many other organizations and individuals who believe in the importance of flexible exceptions to copyright law.

There are now over 1 billion CC-licensed works available, and these will always be free for anyone to use and share. CC licenses work because of the existing contours of copyright. We sometimes complain about the numerous negative aspects of our collective copyright rules—such as absurdly long terms, disproportionate infringement penalties, and a pervasive permission culture. At the same time, we also need to support and expand the features of our copyright law that make possible increased access to information, educational activities, and freedom of expression. We all can use the Creative Commons licenses to create our own commons of content that can be freely reused and shared. But we still rely on the fundamental checks and balances to copyright law to do things that would never be possible using open licensing alone. This is why we celebrate Fair Use Week.

Fair use “permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission from the rights holders…[including for] commentary, search engines, criticism, parody, news reporting, research, teaching, library archiving and scholarship.” Fair use is categorized as an exception to the exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder. A fair use is not an infringement of copyright.

The legal doctrine of fair use continues to get stronger. In the U.S., a court case held that creating copies of copyrighted works for the purpose of search is a fair use. Scholarly and creative disciplines like documentary filmmaking rely on collaboratively-developed best practices guides that steer fair use norms for their respective communities. The power behind fair use lies in its flexibility, which allows for changes in technology and how we interact with and use copyrighted works for creative production, teaching, and learning, as well as new practices in research and journalism.

There are still threats to realizing the full potential of flexible limitations and exceptions to copyright. For example, there are currently trade agreements in play that diminish the importance of limitations to copyright. Instead of securing mandatory limitations and exceptions for uses of copyrighted works under the TPP, all of the provisions that recognize the rights of the public are voluntary, whereas almost everything that benefits rightsholders is binding. Some scholarly publishers are trying to impose licenses that would restrict how researchers are able to conduct text and data mining. These licenses and contracts are problematic because they attempt to require permissions under the law where no permission would have been necessary otherwise. As we mentioned above, U.S. case law has already clarified that activities such as text and data mining will remain outside of the purview of copyright, while other countries are introducing specific legislative exemptions for it. Communia has written about how limitations and exceptions to copyright in the European Union should not be able to be moved aside by contract or license. Of course, Creative Commons licenses respect fair use and other exceptions and limitations to copyright. CC licenses end where copyright ends, which means you don’t need to comply with a CC license if you don’t need permission under copyright.

It’s clear that fair use and other limitations and exceptions are vital to a healthy copyright system. During Fair Use Week and the rest of the year, let’s continue to support and expand these critical user rights.

The post The flip side of copyright appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

Trade agreements like TPP need radical transparency and meaningful public participation

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Rolling Rebellion Sparks in Seattle to Defend Internet & Stop the TPP by Backbone Campaign, CC BY 2.0

Creative Commons and an international coalition of organizations and individuals has published the Brussels Declaration on Trade and the Internet. It follows the recent ceremonial signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP is an example of a trade agreement that has been negotiated in secret with input only from government and corporate interests. There has been no meaningful participation from civil society organizations and public interest advocates who work to protect consumer and digital rights. The text of the TPP was kept secret from the public for several years; it was finally published in November 2015.

Our declaration calls for increased transparency and inclusion by all stakeholders in the development and negotiations of global trade agreements. It was originally developed at a meeting in Belgium earlier this year.

Any international rulemaking process that affects the online and digital environment should adhere to human rights and good governance obligations to actively disseminate information, promote public participation and provide access to justice in governmental decision-making.

The declaration makes six specific recommendations for countries participating in global trade agreements, including regular releases of draft proposals, plenty of opportunity for public comment, and serious engagement of organizations and experts representing Internet users and consumers.

The TPP’s copyright provisions are quite problematic: they downplay the importance of the public domain and exceptions and limitations to copyright, increase the already-too-long term of protection, and demand harsh infringement penalties. Member nations should reject it. And the public should be able to expect openness and fair representation in these types of negotiations.

You can read the full declaration here.

The post Trade agreements like TPP need radical transparency and meaningful public participation appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

The story of Android and how it gave free software the right WAF-factor(Wife Acceptance Factor)

GoOpen.no -

In the «Pre-Android period» gadgets from Apple and computers from Microsoft had what you might call a higher wife acceptance factor, meaning it was more likely to be adapted by non technical users.

When I started out playing with free software more the 15 years ago the terms free software and open sources had a very high geek-factor associated with them . At this time it was hard to imagine any laptop or device running free software taking marked shares from Windows.

For companies developing proprietary software it was also very important to label free software as low quality and unreliable. This has changed dramatically over the last 15 years and Android played an important part in this journey.

Android gave the word disruptive a whole new meaning

The year is 2008. The first GoOpen conference is about to kick off in Oslo.

When the Director of free software at Google, Chris Dibona enters the stage as one of the conference’s keynotes, he talks about how Google has built its business with free software.

He also talks about how they are already well underway to expand Googles business, not only to cover search, ads and video (acquisition of Youtube). At this point it was already known that Google had launchd the first version of a mobile operating system in November 2007  that was based on Linux – the name was Android.

The first phone with Android was released in Norway the next summer and in only 18 months Android dominated the market for smart phones in our country. Sins the launch in 2007 Android have taken over markeds across the world with nearly 1.5 billion users at the end of 2015. This despite the fact that both Apple, Microsoft and the Finnish mobile company we have forgotten the name of,  did every thing possible to dominate the same space during this period.

From the start Google and their partners had a totally different business model, letting different vendors develop new devices based on the same core system. This gave the marked many different devices and the vendors freedom to build on the same software commodities. The key in this approach is an open plattform in an open marked.

The story of Android is important for many reasons, but primarily because it shows that by rethinking a business model completely, it is possible to change a large market in a very short period of time.

An important thing to remember, the mayor topic that concerned most free software activist in 2007-2008 was not Android but the document formats and the battle between OOXML and ODF. During the GoOpen conference in 2008 a friend of mine, Håkon Wium Lie, organized a demonstration that ended up in front of the Norwegian Parliament, with the slogan “OOXML – Go to hell.”

Little did we know that it was not ODF and OpenOffice but Android that would cause a breakthrough for free and open source software and give it all so important Wife Acceptance Factor.

 

Early PLOS BLOGS survey results offer first of many scicomm insights to come

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As the first ever PLOS BLOGS Reader Survey comes to a close, PLOS wants to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts and preferences as science readers and communicators.

[If you’re reading this on Monday 2/15 – President’s Day in the U.S. – before 12 midnight PT, you still have time to add your input to that of the over 1000 PLOS readers who’ve taken the survey to date, and be eligible to win one of 100 classic PLOS t-shirts we’ll be randomly awarding to survey respondents.]

As explained in our announcement post, in addition to hearing what content you find most (and least) valuable as readers of the PLOS BLOGS Network, with this survey PLOS also wants to discover more about YOU as individual readers. Hearing about your general science communication habits and preferences will help us reach you more efficiently and provide the information you most value. Your thoughts on the most useful types of online venues and social media networks for sharing scientific information will help us provide features and functionalities on PLOS sites that best serve your needs. Lastly, your answers will also be added to a larger body of science communication research being conducted by our survey consultant, Dr. Paige Brown Jarreau.

What’s Next?

Over the next 3-4 weeks, Dr. Jarreau will scrub and analyze all the data acquired from this survey. Results will then be made available in two forms: first, as an informal blog post offering survey highlights, to be posted in the PLOS Scicomm blog. Then, later in the year, a more detailed and extensive analysis will be released as a formal research article to be authored by Dr. Jarreau — with the attendant raw data made available for all to see and share.

If, while taking the survey, you entered your email for a chance to win a PLOS t-shirt, and you are one of the 100 to be randomly selected as a winner, you will receive an email requesting your t-shirt size and mailing address — within the next 3 weeks.

 Sneak Peak of Survey Results

As a preview of what’s to come, we can share the following fundamental demographic and scicomm user trends that showed up early in the survey and have remained pretty much the same since.

Who reads PLOS BLOGS? (Respondents selected all that apply)

  • Researchers 70%
    • 55% early career; 42% Mid to late career
    • 67% have published research in peer reviewed journal(s)
  • Grad students 19%
  • Science teachers 15%
  • Clinicians/health providers 11%
  • Patients 6%
  • Citizen Scientists 16%
  • Science writers 14%

In addition, 89% of these PLOS BLOGS readers tell us they have a college degree in science, while 45% have a PhD in their fields.

Top 3 reasons for reading PLOS BLOGS:

  1. Keep up with current scientific research
  2. Stimulate my curiosity
  3. For expert opinions on scientific issues

How often they post their own scientific content online? 40% either daily or 2-3 times a week

How many science blogs read regularly?

  • 1 – 2    47%
  • 3 – 5    25%

These highlights barely scratch the surface of the rich data we’ve got on hand, including hundreds of text amplifications offered by our generous respondents. All responses will be analyzed and discussed in depth in the blog post and formal article mentioned above.

So, if you’ve got a few minutes please add your two cents to the PLOS BLOGS Reader Survey before it closes for good (12 midnight PT on 2/15).

And, if you want to hear survey results and receive other PLOS news we invite you to sign up for EMAIL Updates.

Thanks again to all who contributed by taking the survey and spreading the word!

There’s still time to stop the TPP

Creativecommons.org -

TPPA Signing Protest in Auckland, by Prosperosity, CC BY-SA 4.0

Last week, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—the massive multilateral trade agreement negotiated in secret among government and industry representatives—was signed by officials in New Zealand.

When the final text of the TPP was released in November 2015, we wrote about how the agreement is a direct threat to the public interest and the commons. The provisions around intellectual property are especially problematic. If adopted, the TPP would represent the most sweeping expansion of international restrictions on copyright in over twenty years. It downplays the importance of the public domain and exceptions and limitations to copyright, increases the already-too-long term of copyright protection, and demands harsh infringement penalties. We continue to urge member nations to reject the TPP.

The February 4 ceremonial “signing” came after a few months with little to no public consultation or debate. But simply signing the agreement doesn’t mean it has gone into effect. The road to enactment begins now, as each of the nations involved will attempt to ratify the TPP through their respective political processes.

According to EFF, “the agreement will enter into force either 60 days after all original signatories ratify it or, if that doesn’t happen within two years, in April 2018 if at least six of the 12 countries accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the original signatories have ratified the agreement.”

From Canada to Japan to Chile to the United States, activists in TPP-affected countries are organizing around ways to stop the agreement from taking effect. Ratification is not a foregone conclusion—as we’ve seen before with the massive public support against SOPA/PIPA, ACTA, and other regulation that would harm the public interest and the open web.

There is still time to act against the harmful TPP. In the United States, you can contact your Congressional Representatives and Senators (who will need to vote on the matter after President Obama introduces the TPP legislation to Congress). Tell them to vote NO on the TPP. We’ll also try to highlight ways that advocates in other countries can get involved before those nations complete their ratification procedures.

Together we should combine our efforts and stand united against the TPP. We know it contains sweeping provisions regarding environmental regulation, pharmaceutical procurement, intellectual property, labor standards, and food safety. And over the last five years, it has been developed and negotiated in secret. The TPP and other trade deals need to be developed transparently and with robust public oversight. Otherwise, this and other types of undemocratic, back-room agreements will continue to be a significant and damaging mechanism for global policymaking.

The post There’s still time to stop the TPP appeared first on Creative Commons blog.

Statement on Data Sharing in Public Health Emergencies

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The following is a joint funder/journal statement released today on Data Sharing in Public Health Emergencies. To learn about the special PLOS Zika virus publishing initiative, please read this Speaking of Medicine post.

The arguments for sharing data, and the consequences of not doing so, have been thrown into stark relief by the Ebola and Zika outbreaks.

In the context of a public health emergency of international concern, there is an imperative on all parties to make any information available that might have value in combatting the crisis.

We are committed to working in partnership to ensure that the global response to public health emergencies is informed by the best available research evidence and data, as such:

  •  Journal signatories will make all content concerning the Zika virus free to access. Any data or preprint deposited for unrestricted dissemination ahead of submission of any paper will not pre-empt its publication in these journals.
  • Funder signatories will require researchers undertaking work relevant to public health emergencies to set in place mechanisms to share quality-assured interim and final data as rapidly and widely as possible, including with public health and research communities and the World Health Organisation.

We urge other organisations to make the same commitments.

This commitment is in line with the consensus statement agreed at a WHO expert consultation on data sharing last year whereby researchers are expected to share data at the earliest opportunity, once they are adequately controlled for release and subject to any safeguards required to protect research participants and patients.

Signatories to the Statement

Academy of Medical Sciences, UK

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Canadian Institutes of Health Research

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention

The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India

The Department for International Development (DFID)

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

eLife

F1000

Fondation Mérieux

Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz)

The Institut Pasteur

Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED)

The JAMA Network

The Lancet

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders  (MSF)

National Academy of Medicine

National Institutes of Health, USA

National Science Foundation

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

PLOS

Science Journals

South African Medical Research Council

Springer Nature

UK Medical Research Council

Wellcome Trust

ZonMw – The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development

 

Image Credit: USDA

PLOS Data System Upgrade

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PLOS is pleased to announce that we are moving all of our web site applications to a new data center and performing a number of system changes that will enhance the performance of all of our sites, making them faster, more secure and more reliable. The migration will be performed Saturday, February 6 between 7:00 AM PST and noon, although some services may not be fully operational until Sunday at 5:00 PM PST. During this time there may be limited availability of some functions. Thank you for your patience.

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