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New Examples of Collaboration, Freedom, and Transparency at Work

Posted in News Roundup at 3:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News items from December and January, demonstrating the power of peer production and cooperation


  • Welcome DIY, Open source Lux camera Project

    Another 100% Open Source camera is coming up: we really think that Open Source photography is the next big thing in open source!

  • What I learned while editing Wikipedia

    After my initial stint with Wikipedia editing, I increasingly realized that the English version of Wikipedia lacked articles on Indian writers, famous personalities, cultural artefacts, and more. The problem is multi-layered and includes poor coverage of everything relating to non-western societies as well as to women within those societies. Once, I created article on Wikipedia about an Indian, female writer named Bama. She is from the lowest caste community called Dalits in India; and while the author is a celebrated writer of stories on the subject of double oppression (which is oppession of women by people of higher castes and oppression by men within their own communities), Wikipedia almost naturally had no record of her work. Sadly, within minutes of my creation of her article it was nominated for deletion. I then quickly added more references while simultaneously starting a discussion about why it should not be deleted. At that point, another Indian editor jumped in and helped with the explaination; the next day the deletion tag was removed.

  • Hacking Open the Data Center

    Just a few years ago, the words “open source” and “hardware” were never mentioned in the same sentence. Instead, the focus was on open source software running on top of closed, proprietary hardware solutions.

    Hardware suppliers were inwardly focused on creating proprietary, “converged” infrastructure to protect their existing businesses, instead of working with the community to develop new solutions.

  • What Google can really do with Nest, or really, Nest’s data
  • Spark: Look Ma, an open source thermostat
  • Open source smart thermostats rise to compete with Nest after Google acquisition
  • Building an open source Nest
  • Out in the Open: These Hackers Want to Give You Coding Superpowers

    Built alongside friend and colleague Robert Attorri, his creation is called Light Table, and he believes it can not only improve programming for seasoned engineers like himself, but put the power of coding into the hands of so many others. “We consider programming a modern-day superpower. You can create something out of nothing, cure cancer, build billion-dollar companies,” he says. “We’re looking at how we can give that super power to everyone else.”

  • Five ways to bring a more social, open development environment to your company
  • Four tech terms to forget in ’14

    1) “Open”: Early on, most commonly thought of as short form for “open source” (code all can use, tinker with and contribute to), “open” has opened up a Pandora’s Box of multiple and sometimes contradictory implied meanings: “open standard” (technical standards anyone can apply); “open access” (for participation in online activities); “open content” (digital content that can be reused, remixed and shared); and “open data” (publicly released data, generally governmental or research).

  • The Power of the Commons-based Crowdfunding: Goteo 2013 in Review

    Goteo is a crowdfunding platform for the commons. Founded in Spain in 2011 with an explicit mission to promote and support p2p values of openess, collaboration and sharing, Goteo’s innovation in crowdfunding has seen them go from strength to strength. Their 2013 year end report is an inspiring testament to the power of the crowd. We highly recommend reading the article and encourage you to consider Goteo for your next p2p and commons inspired projects.

  • Using OpenStreetMap to respond to disasters before they happen
  • Release early, release often in scientific research
  • How the network industry should view and understand “open”
  • Solving local problems through citizen participation

    The winners in the domestic challenge covered a broad range of issues Sunlight cares about, including public procurement, public sector innovation and the use of data to improve public administration. If last year’s challenge was any indication, this year’s European-focused competition will likely demonstrate that cities around the world are turning towards new technology and open data to improve the lives of city residents.

  • Steering science back to its roots of reproducibility (a TEDx talk)
  • The open source solution to the bee colony collapse problem

    Last year, a third of honeybee colonies in the United States quite literally vanished. Commercial honey operations, previously abuzz with many thousands of bees, fell suddenly silent, leaving scientists and beekeepers alike scratching their heads. The reasons remain mostly a mystery for what is called Colony Collapse Disorder—a disturbing development of the drying up of beehives throughout the industrialised world.

  • Honey Badger Hedge Fund: Hackers Predict Stock Market With Open Source Mojo

    Most of the Honey Badger platform is written in Python, an open source programming language popular with mathematicians and web programmers. And the team stores and processes its data with a combination of Hadoop — an open source clone of Google’s big data crunching system — and the tried and true open source database MySQL. The team pays Amazon and Microsoft Azure a few thousand dollars a month for cloud hosting — a bargain compared to what they would have had to pay upfront for supercomputers ten years ago.

  • The Open-Sorcerers

    Open-source magic is not about slapping magical secrets up on YouTube; there are more than enough eager teenagers and fun-ruiners willing to do that. Instead, it takes a lesson from the open-source technology activists who believe that better innovation comes through collaboration.

  • Open Source Civilization – A Moonshot Project

    The Open Source Ecology project is designed to develop plans and methods to build these fifty machines, and do it as one collaborative effort. In his TED Talk he confessed that after completing a PhD in Fusion Energy he felt useless. There was no practical knowledge to be used in the world to implement change.

  • Open-Source Schematic Lets Users Build A Functioning Paper Speaker [Pics]
  • Taking ‘A Total Disruption’ Open Source

    Sundance winning documentarian Ondi Timoner isn’t in the habit of doing things in half-measures. Her latest endeavor, the web series “A Total Disruption,” features some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. The project is in a sense a quest to profile the entrepreneurial spirit of the age.

    As such, the project hasn’t been limited to the tech sector. Timoner has turned her lens on creative luminaries like Shepard Fairey and Amanda Palmer. Those two are headlining a benefit soirée for the next phase of “A Total Disruption,” that will also feature Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and YouTuber Jhameel, this Sunday in Los Angeles.

  • The open source solution to the bee colony collapse problem
  • The first supercapacitor-powered portable speakers are open source

    Sam Beck is the guy behind Blueshift, an open source sustainable eletronics business that is all about building cool stuff. Helium speakers are the company’s first product to market and will be the world’s the first supercapacitor-powered portable speakers. Not to mention the design files are open source.

  • Paperhouses Offers Open Source Blueprints of Contemporary Architecture
  • Neurodreamer: open source sleeping mask/mind machine
  • Souliss Open Source Home Automation Framework Now Supports Plug And Play
  • Paperhouses: Architecture in Open Source

    But what if architecture could make life better for the many. What if good-quality, life-bettering architecture were open-source and available to download off the internet? For free?

Open Data

  • What GitHub is doing for women developers, Tim O’Reilly speaks on open data, and more
  • Tim O’Reilly on open data: Cheap may be open enough
  • Open Data Empowers Us to Answer Questions that Matter
  • MIT Offers For-Profit Online Course on Big Data, with Certification

    EdX, the non-profit online learning organization with a huge roster of global institutions under the xConsortium participating, has been a leader in the free online education arena for several years. In June of last year, the organization released the code for its learning platform under an open source license. And, MIT has been leveraging the platform to deliver free online courses, as we covered here. Now, MIT has announced that it will start offering for-profit courses on edX, beginning with a course on Big Data. Because of the salaries that people with Big Data skills are commanding in the job market, the course could be a good opportunity for job seekers.

  • Credit for code: enough with the half-measures already

    Few things are more frustrating, or more likely to result in irreproducibility and error, than trying to reconstruct a computational analysis based on a prosaic description of an algorithm in a research article. Yet this is a very typical part of the working day in my field (bioinformatics) and I imagine, in many others.

  • Open data should be for justice

    Being unprepared for the conversation, our 45 minutes together wandered through introductions and eventually focused on a conversation about how public data could be used to advocate for employment opportunities for communities of color around municipal development sites. My perspective was that we could use public data to document the ways that these employment opportunities often are not given to members of the community adjacent to or containing the development site. While we didn’t get very far on this topic, many participating (myself included) seemed interested in exploring it further.

Elsevier Against Open Access

We last covered this a month and a half ago. Here’s later coverage:

  • Elsevier steps up its War On Access

    I thought Elsevier was already doing all it could to alienate the authors who freely donate their work to shore up the corporation’s obscene profits. The thousands of takedown notices sent to Academia.edu represent at best a grotesque PR mis-step, an idiot manoeuvre that I thought Elsevier would immediately regret and certainly avoid repeating.

  • Elsevier Ramps Up Its War On Access To Knowledge

    We just recently wrote about the terrible anti-science/anti-knowledge/anti-learning decision by publishing giant Elsevier to demand that Academia.edu take down copies of journal articles that were submitted directly by the authors, as Elsevier wished to lock all that knowledge (much of it taxpayer funded) in its ridiculously expensive journals. Mike Taylor now alerts us that Elsevier is actually going even further in its war on access to knowledge. Some might argue that Elsevier was okay in going after a “central repository” like Academia.edu, but at least it wasn’t going directly after academics who were posting pdfs of their own research on their own websites. While some more enlightened publishers explicitly allow this, many (including Elsevier) technically do not allow it, but have always looked the other way when authors post their own papers.

  • Elsevier’s David Tempest explains subscription-contract confidentiality clauses

    As we all know, University libraries have to pay expensive subscription fees to scholarly publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and Informa, so that their researchers can read articles written by their colleagues and donated to those publishers. Controversially (and maybe illegally), when negotiating contracts with libraries, publishers often insist on confidentiality clauses — so that librarians are not allowed to disclose how much they are paying. The result is an opaque market with no downward pressure on prices, hence the current outrageously high prices, which are rising much more quickly than inflation even as publishers’ costs shrink due to the transition to electronic publishing.

  • How one publisher is stopping academics from sharing their research

    One of the world’s largest academic publishers has launched a wide-ranging takedown spree, demanding that several different universities take down their own scholars’ research.

Open Hardware

  • Got questions on open hardware? Just ask an engineer.

    One of my favorite quotes is “We are what we celebrate.” Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics, says this and it comes up on an almost daily basis one way or another in my work in open source hardware and education. One of the challenges of getting more young people into engineering and computer programming is that we’re collectively competing with the high profile status that becoming a famous, professional athlete or musician, or reality show star, promises. I don’t expect the mass media to change, because change happens from small groups of motivated people. And, this is where the maker, hacker, and open source software and hardware communities are making great progress.

  • RS adds mechanical design export to open-source PCB tool
  • Make sure your computer hardware is NSA-free with these transparent building plans.

    With growing concern about government agencies such as the NSA, open-source software has stepped into the spotlight as a way to ensure complete transparency. While this has so far only applied to software, there could soon be a way for you to take complete control of your hardware as well, all thanks to Project Novena.

  • 2014: The Year of Free Hardware

    Usually, I avoid making predictions. However, increasingly, I believe that the sleeper trend of 2014 will be free-licensed hardware — and that its availability could transform free and open source software (FOSS) as well as hardware manufacturing.

    As 2013 closes, the trend is already well-advanced. Ubuntu Edge’s crowdfunding might have failed, but Ubuntu Touch is supposed to have a still-unnamed vendor, while the first Firefox OS phone was released in July, and Jolla released its first phone based on Sailfish OS.

  • A review of the Printrbot 3D printer
  • 3D printing could herald the Age of Open Source Stuff

    3D printing is set to disrupt multiple industries thanks to its unique position at the intersection of three important trends in technology: the Internet of Things, our growing desire to personalize our things, and the coming revolution in the way things get delivered to us.

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