[cc-info] ccNewsletter #7 - Science Commons
melissa at creativecommons.org
Mon Jun 9 13:11:15 EDT 2008
Creative Commons, as an organization, has undergone a significant transition
since the last ccNewsletter -- on April 1st, 2008, Lawrence Lessig stepped
down as CEO and Joi Ito, previously the Chairman of the Board, took his
place. It is an exciting time here at CC and this transition marks the
growth of CC from just an idea (which we were 5 1/2 years ago) to becoming a
fixture in the digital landscape -- and we can honestly attribute this
growth to the acceptance and evangelism of our active community of which you
all are a part. Thank you for sharing and supporting CC and helping us build
this global creative commons, which is so vital to the future of
participatory culture. Even though CC as an organization has changed, CC as
a philosophy and as a mission remains the same, and we hope that you will
continue to support CC as we work hard to continue providing you all with
the tools necessary to actualize this common goal.
This month's newsletter spotlights Science Commons, a project of Creative
Commons dedicated to bringing the sharing and reuse principles CC brought to
the world of culture, to scientific research. Their work focuses on
identifying unnecessary barriers to research, and developing strategies and
tools for faster, more efficient scientific research. The goal - to speed
the translation of data into discovery.
If you would prefer a hard copy, download the pdf (designed by CC
Philippines Project Leads and CC's Senior Designer Alex Roberts) here:
No one can explain Science Commons better than the VP, John Wilbanks, so
without further adieu...
===Inside Scoop - Science Commons==
*A word from the VP of Science: John Wilbanks*
I'm going to take full advantage of the opportunity to address the broader
Creative Commons audience on the topic of Science Commons. Many of the CC
community don't know a lot about us – who we are, what we do, and why we
think science is such a remarkable place for the commons. Hopefully we can
address some of that knowledge gap with this issue of the CC newsletter.
There are clear parallels between the advance of the control philosophy in
culture and science. As in culture, an interlocking set of science-related
judicial, legislative, and social was eroding ancient traditions of
information distribution and reuse. Costs were rising, not dropping, with
the advent of more efficient network technologies for publishing. The Web we
built for culture and commerce was not robust enough to handle the demands
of high-throughput research. And in general, the kinds of innovation
explosions we associate with user-driven culture and commerce were nowhere
to be found in the scientific web.
Something has to give. We need cures for diseases, understanding of global
problems like climate change, and better government science policy. But the
question was how we got there – and how a commons fit into the picture.
That's where we come in at Science Commons.
We're a project of Creative Commons – that is, we work for CC just like the
culture folks, and we have our email addresses @creativecommons.org. We have
five full-time employees and four part-time employees, and we're hosted at
the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in
Cambridge, MA, USA. We raise our own dedicated project funds, and we work on
taking the ideas at the heart of Creative Commons – standard licenses that
create sharing regimes, implemented in good technology, and commons-based
policy – into the sciences. Specifically, we work on making the "research
cycle" go as fast as it can go.
By the research cycle, we mean the constant generation, distribution, and
reuse of knowledge that forms the heart of the scientific method. In a
network world, the research cycle depends on digital technologies at every
step, from the scholarly literature (search and access stages) to the
petabytes of data (again, search and access stages) to the digital
descriptions of non-digital research tools like cell lines and recombinant
DNA. At each of these stages we can apply theories of the commons to remove
barriers to research and accelerate the pace of science.
I've written previously about the commons as a key weapon against
complexity, which I think is the key problem of our time in the sciences.
It's the abject complexity of the human system and the reality of the
knowledge gap about the system. Human bodies make microprocessors look like
children's toys in terms of complexity. And those bodies exist in a
constantly changing set of environmental factors.
One of the reasons I believe so deeply in the commons approach (by which i
mean: contractually constructed regimes that tilt the field towards sharing
and reuse, technological enablements that make public knowledge easy to find
and use, and default policy rules that create incentives to share and reuse)
is that I think it is one of the only non-miraculous ways to defeat
complexity. If we can get more people working on individual issues – which
are each alone not so complex – and the outputs of research snap together,
and smart people can work on the compiled output as well – then it stands to
reason that the odds of meaningful discoveries increase in spite of overall
This is not easy as far as solutions go. It requires open access to content,
journals and databases both. It requires that database creators think about
their products as existing in a network, and provide hooks for the network,
not just query access. It requires that funders pay for biobanks to store
research tools. It requires that pharmaceutical companies take a hard look
at their private assets and build some trust in entities that make sharing
possible. It requires that scientists share their stuff (this is the
elephant in the lab, frankly). It requires that universities track sharing
as a metric of scientific and societal impact.
If we're going to attack the cost of drug creation and marketing, we have to
attack the failures at the source – the knowledge gap created by complexity.
Creating a robust public domain and knowledge commons – with the attendant
increase in scientists who have the freedom and tools to practice
collaborative science, all over the world -is one of the only clear methods
we have at our disposal.
And if we can actually get the price point down to $100M, or $50M, the game
is changed forever. Venture capitalists can fund a drug, as can foundations,
at that price point. Prize models suddenly become very, very workable. And
big pharma finally would see meaningful competition.
Complexity is the enemy. Distributed innovation, built on a commons, is a
strong tonic against that enemy.
*ESOF 2008: Collaborating for the Future of Open Science*
by Donna Wentworth
We're reaching an inflection point in the global movement to implement
"open" approaches to scientific research -- approaches with tremendous
potential for accelerating the translation of basic research to useful
discoveries like new drugs and therapies. These approaches are often
referred to collectively as "open science," yet both the term and its
underlying principles have yet to be defined. This hamstrings efforts to
connect the important initiatives that are working to further the
development of open science in nations across the globe.
We now have the tools to bring together open research and data from around
the world, embedded with the freedoms necessary to make use of it. What we
need are shared principles for developing systems that can work together, so
we can harness network effects and increase the value of each contribution
to the open knowledge commons.
This July, Science Commons is convening a free and open workshop in
Barcelona, Spain, to discuss and define the basic principles of open
science, including identifying the key tenets for a system to be recognized
as an open science system. Our aim is to conclude the workshop with a set of
principles for open science that can effectively guide the development of a
global, collaborative infrastructure for knowledge sharing that speeds
discovery and saves lives.
The event, "Policy and Technology for e-Science," is one of three satellite
events preceding the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF), which is among the
largest and most well-known conferences in Europe on science and technology.
The workshop will take place July 16 -17, 2008, at the Institut d'Estudis
Catalans. Our co-sponsors are the Scholarly Publishing and Academic
Resources Coalition (SPARC), the Center for the Study of the Public Domain
at Duke University (CSPD) and the Institut d'Estudis Catalans (IEC).
In preparation for the workshop, we have been working with a distinguished
steering committee that includes representatives from the European
Commission, CERN, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and
Creative Commons International (CCi), as well as leading open access
advocates, text-mining experts and academics engaged in these discussions in
We hope to bring together thought leaders, policymakers and representatives
from the major research foundations for a discussion that will significantly
further shared goals. If you would like to attend, please visit the
registration page <
event is open to the public and free, but seating is limited. For more
information, visit <http://sciencecommons.org/events/esof-satellite-event>.
Science Commons News
*The following is an excerpt from the whitepaper -"Health Commons: Therapy
Development in a Networked World - an Introduction and Overview" co-authored
by John Wilbanks and Marty Tenenbaum. To read the paper in its entirety,
*Introducing the Health Commons*
*a project of Science Commons, Collabrx, Public Library of Science, and
The Health Commons: Solving the Health Research Puzzle
The pharmaceutical industry is at a crossroads. Despite revolutionary
advances in molecular biology that have made genetic decoding routine, the
time from gene to cure still stands at 17 years. High-throughput screening
methods allow us to test the efficacy of millions of compounds against a
molecular target in a single week; but the odds of one of those compounds
making it through the development pipeline and becoming a drug are less than
1/1,000,000. A well-funded group starting today, using the traditional model
of drug development, has a very slim chance at getting a drug to market by
The time has come to change the way we cure disease. We are no longer asking
whether a gene or a molecule is critical to a particular biological process;
rather, we are discovering whole networks of molecular and cellular
interactions that contribute to disease. And soon, we will have such
information about individuals, rather than the population as a whole.
Biomedical knowledge is exploding, and yet the system to capture that
knowledge and translate it into saving human lives still relies on an
antiquated and risky strategy of focusing the vast resources of a few
pharmaceutical companies on just a handful of disease targets.
The Health Commons Vision
Imagine a virtual marketplace or ecosystem where participants share data,
knowledge, materials and services to accelerate research. The components
might include databases on the results of chemical assays, toxicity screens,
and clinical trials; libraries of drugs and chemical compounds; repositories
of biological materials (tissue samples, cell lines, molecules),
computational models predicting drug efficacies or side effects, and
contract services for high-throughput genomics and proteomics, combinatorial
drug screening, animal testing, biostatistics, and more. The resources
offered through the Commons might not necessarily be free, though many could
be. However, all would be available under standard pre-negotiated terms and
conditions and with standardized data formats that eliminate the
debilitating delays, legal wrangling and technical incompatibilities that
frustrate scientific collaboration today.
We envision a Commons where a researcher will be able to order everything
needed to replicate a published experiment as easily as ordering DVDs from
Amazon. A Commons where one can create a workflow to exploit replicated
results on an industrial scale – searching the world's biological
repositories for relevant materials; routing them to the best labs for
molecular profiling; forwarding the data to a team of bioinfomaticians for
collaborative analysis of potential drug targets; and finally hiring top
service providers to run drug screens against those targets; with everything
– knowledge, data, and materials – moving smoothly from one provider to the
next, monitored and tracked with Fed-Ex precision; where the workflow
scripts themselves can become part of the Commons, for others to reuse and
improve. Health Commons' marketplace will slash the time, cost, and risk of
developing treatments for diseases. Individual researchers, institutions,
and companies will be able to publish information about their expertise and
resources so that others in the community can readily discover and use them.
Core competencies, from clinical trial design to molecular profiling, will
be packaged as turnkey services and made available over the Net. The Commons
will serve as the public-domain, non-profit hub, with third-parties
providing value added services that facilitate information access,
communication, and collaboration.
What is Health Commons?
Health Commons is a coalition of parties interested in changing the way
basic science is translated into the understanding and improvement of human
health. Coalition members agree to share data, knowledge, and services under
standardized terms and conditions by committing to a set of common
technologies, digital information standards, research materials, contracts,
workflows, and software. These commitments ensure that knowledge, data,
materials and tools can move seamlessly from partner to partner across the
entire drug discovery chain. They enable participants to offer standardized
services, ranging from simple molecular assays to complex drug synthesis
solutions, that others can discover in directories and integrate into their
own processes to expedite development — or assemble like LEGO blocks to
create new services.
The Health Commons is too complex for any one organization or company to
create. It requires a coalition of partners across the spectrum. It is also
too complex for public, private, or non-profit organizations alone -
reinventing therapy development for the networked world requires, from the
beginning, a commitment to public-private partnership. Only through a
public-private partnership can the key infrastructure of the Commons be
created: the investments in the public domain of information and materials
will only be realized if that public domain is served by a private set of
systems integrators and materials, tools and service providers motivated by
profit. And in turn, the long-term success of the private sector depends on
a growing, robust, and self-replenishing public domain of data, research
tools, and open source software.
* Towards Research in a Box - by Donna Wentworth
* How to Free Your Facts - by Donna Wentworth
* Science Commons & SPARC Release Guide for Creating Open Access Policies at
Institutions - by Donna Wentworth
* Nguyen on Keeping Data Open & Free - by Donna Wentworth
===And now for other Creative Commons News===
* Creative Common Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses
* CC0 beta/discussion draft 2
* search.creativecommons.org screencast and i18n
* CC Licensing Guidebook for Government Agencies and NGOs
* Transition at Creative Commons Switzerland
* 2nd Blender Peach Open Source Movie Premiere and Economies of the Commons
* Ecuador encourages learning, research, and creativity with localized CC
* Mayer and Bettle: the Animation Sequel about CC
* Scripta: CC Latin America
* CC Guatemala enters public discussion
* Building an Australasian Commons
* Grant Competition to Support CC Licensing Adoption in the South Caucasus
* Malaysian Artistes for Unity
CC Points of Interest
* Flickr Video
* Magnatune does good via the Amarok media player
* Custom CC Search
* Another Nine Inch Nails album out under a Creative Commons license
* The (potential) U.S. copyright czar and you
* VIA added
* Steal this Footage added
* ccLearn Monthly Update - April 15th
* "Attribution Only" as Default Policy—Otago Polytechnic on the How and Why
of CC BY
* LearnHub Integrates CC Licensing
eIFL.net on Open Access, Open Education, and Creative Commons
* ccLearn Monthly Update 21 May 2008
We rely on our supporters to continue our work enabling stories like those
listed above. Check it out --
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Creative Commons was built with and is sustained by the generous support of
organizations including the Center for the
Public Domain, the Omidyar Network, The Rockefeller Foundation, The John D.
and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as well as members of the public.
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