Software freedom motivated for research outputs, research infrastructure

oa
science
Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f08e7261820> #<Tag:0x00007f08e7261500>

#1

About the software category:

How can other free/open movements be convinced that software freedom is necessary, including for their practices?

Advanced open science people are convinced, at least regarding their immediate product, see http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/2015-we-live-in-a-bubble.html and its links/comments, one of which says: “If the goal is to do the best science, then I agree that open source is important.” Well worth perusing.

I initially took note of the link because it says two (only) journals currently are known to require an open source license for software accompanying a publication. That ought be universalized, but I thought the field-specific argumentation for open source more interesting, so I didn’t start this topic in policy. But in that vein, note that the poster is also taking a policy as an individual reviewer, an example of how pro-commons policy can be enacted at any level from individual to institution to law.

The “bubble” in the link title refers to a conversation bubble, in which open science people are only talking amongst themselves, largely on twitter (and publishing software on github). I suspect the most informed ones feel bad about this (those services aren’t open source) but in this they are no different from the vast majority of open source developers, even ones who use the term free software. I have seen various posts over the years calling for ‘open [source] science infrastructure’, but that’s harder for an individual to act on. Most recently slightly in that vein, When Open Access is the norm, how do scientists work together online?:

And while its online lessons are also being managed in a GitHub repository, project leader Tracy Teal, a microbial ecologist and bioinformatician, cautions that GitHub is less than ideal for the purpose. “The capacity to share, track versions and do diffs makes it very appealing for collaborative document and lesson development,” she says, “but it currently has too many technical barriers for people without programming experience. The activation energy to use it is just too high.”

Maybe GitHub will continue to evolve in ways that lower those barriers. Or maybe open source alternatives, like GitLab, will enable that evolution. Although it hosts millions of open source projects, GitHub itself isn’t an open source project. GitLab, though, operates under a dual license and offers an open source community edition. One way or another, the model of collaboration that GitHub has popularized is vital to the progress of science, and seems likely to prevail.

People quoted in the article strongly recommend Twitter, though for awhile Friendfeed was preferred by researchers. A big comprehensive post from February on Principles for Open Scholarly Infrastructures co-authored by Cameron Neylon (who mourned Friendfeed at the previous link) covers the various “open” things needed, including open source.


Public big data infrastructure