SXSW Open Science Panel

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The Open Science Panel, hosted by John Wilbanks, at the 2006 South by South Interactive Festival will discuss the development of legal, economic and technical approaches to openness in science. This page is to help organize the panel's thoughts on what should be discussed at the panel.


Moderator: John Wilbanks -- Exec Dir, Science Commons

Barbara Cohen -- Exec Editor, Public Library of Science
Sri Kosuri -- Graduate Student, MIT/OpenWetWare
Antoun Nabhan -- Principal, Sagamore Bioventures
Susy Struble -- Sun Microsystems


Podcast of Panel
Video clips from panel
Some Pictures at SXSW by John
Austin NPR interview


Everyone should be ready to give a five minute overview, no slides or at most two slides, as we get started.

  1. John
    • intro
  2. Barbara
    • open publishing experience
  3. Susy
    • open standards
  4. Sri
    • OpenWetWare
    • Synthetic Biology
  5. Antoun
    • costs of innovation

We will try to keep this section under 30 minutes to have a larger discussion/Q&A session. If no one comes, we can occupy the time talking to each other.


We are supposed to meet in the Green Room (Ballroom E) on Tuesday morning by 9AM. There is a tentative plan to meet for dinner and/or drinks on Monday night in Austin somewhere. At some point, we should send contact info to each other over email.

  • BC: I'll be arriving on Monday late afternoon and staying at the Capitol Place, the hotel formerly know as Crowne Plaza, 500 N. IH-35, Austin, TX 78701. Hotel phone: 512-480-8181. Feel free to call me on my cell phone (see email) but don't count on my ability to retrieve messages. Would definitively be up for drinks/dinner on Monday night.
  • Sri Kosuri 22:09, 6 March 2006 (EST): I am also at the Capitol Place Hotel and I arrive on Sunday. I sent my email out to you all just now with my cell phone number as well.
  • JW: I arrive monday around noon. Creative Commons is throwing a party Monday night and you're all invited: - staying at the hilton austin, 500 E. 4th St. Leaving Weds. AM. If anyone likes the dresden dolls and is sticking around through friday i can get you a ticket. cell (see email), Hotel phone: 512-482-8000.
  • Susy: I arrive Sunday at 6:30 and am staying at the Driskoll Hotel. My cell is (see email). I love the Dresden Dolls and am sorry that I can't stay through Friday!

Conference Call Summary

The conversation we had seems to be a great place to seed discussions and thoughts after the short intros. I will summarize what I remember of the discussion here. Please feel free to edit away.

The discussion was centered around three major topics:

Intellectual Property

Antoun -- talked about how venture and new companies are operating under current intellectual property regimes. In emerging fields,

Sri --

John -- SC mission to simplify licensing restrictions?

Susy -- what can the life science and "Open Access" community learn from the open-cource and open standards experience in IT? "Science" and IT both face the problem of building useful communities despite IP obstacles. I can go through how the world of IT has kind of addressed this issue and perhaps there are lessons learned for "Science." Also a general call for a more nuanced treatment of IP rights to match economic and social welfare needs. One size does not fit all. Notion of carve-outs in IT are similar to what's happening w/ "Research."


Susy -- IT standards have enabled interoperability, innovation and economic development. Should be the same for "Science." But it's difficult to define and maintain standards. In IT world, we have specifications, reference implementations and tests. There are probably parallels here to what's needed for "Science," where what's needed is access not only to research but the tools and methodologies behind the research (kind of like how an IT specification only gets you so far)

Sri -- Initiatives in SB to set biological standards: Parts registry, BioBricks Foundation, et cetera

John -- Access to scientific data

Barbera -- Getting information resources to talk with one another.


Barbera -- Reward structures & Publishing Models.

John -- Science Commons

Sri -- OpenWetWare

Susy -- In IT world, we're trying to promote that the creator is a user and vice versa. This has implications for notions of sharing and collaboration as well as encourages a different view of IP treatment.

Antoun -- I think that culture is fundamentally based on the structures that reward people or kick them out of the institutions that allow them to do what they do. "Publish or perish" should be replaced with "contribute or be confined." - We need to open up the construction of what contributes to discovery and achievement to allow scientists to be rewarded for passing along materials, etc.

Related Stuff

2006 SXSW Interactive Panelist FAQ