[ox-en] [Fwd: [ox] FYI: Salon[26 Feb 2002]: Genome liberation. The information that details who we are is too important to be privately owned.]
- From: Stefan Meretz <stefan.meretz hbv.org>
- Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 11:41:02 +0100
-------- Ursprüngliche Nachricht --------
Betreff: [ox] FYI: Salon[26 Feb 2002]: Genome liberation. The
information that details who we are is too important to be privately owned.
Datum: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 23:47:00 [PHONE NUMBER REMOVED]
Von: Robert Gehring <zoroaster snafu.de>
Rückantwort: liste oekonux.de
An: liste oekonux.de
FYI: Ein ziemlich langer Artikel (3 Teile) zu Fragen der "Offenheit"/freien
Verfügbarkeit von Genom-Informationen.
The information that details who we are is too important to be
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Annalee Newitz
In the world of free and open-source software, the underlying code to a
software program is made publicly available for anyone to share, copy or
modify. For bioinformatics researchers, the idea of being able to share
software code and benefit from each other's research exerts a strong appeal
that is synergistically linked with their belief that information about
genetic code should also be freely available.
Free software has historically been a realm inhabited by geeks who
have difficulty making their concerns comprehensible to the general public.
In contrast, the worries of life sciences workers come at a time when
awareness over the new possibilities of biotech is surging. When kittens
sheep are being cloned, how long can it be before we have the ability to
For scientists who work with genomes and proteins, possibly the most
position they can take is that their research is for the public good, and
therefore their data should be available in the public domain. The problem
is, few members of the general public are well-trained enough to appreciate
the value of a software program that, for example, aligns your cDNA
to a gene or set of genes. Nor would many care to use their computers to
predict the secondary structure of a protein.
Thus, for many scientists, putting data in the public domain means
with other scientists. Doing this might mean placing your newly discovered
protein structures in a public database. Or, if you want to publish your
findings, it could mean working with Michael Eisen on the Public Library of
Science, a free, peer-reviewed scientific publishing project the U.C.
Berkeley professor initiated to combat the problem of having to buy
of prohibitively expensive science journals in order to "share" knowledge
with his peers. Like many in the life sciences, Eisen dislikes the
commercialization -- and, for all practical purposes, privatization -- that
occurs when scientists place their valuable findings in journals that other
scientists can't access because their universities or labs haven't got a
Open-source contracts may be the most elegant solution for scientists who
want to share their work. "I know many people at U.C. Berkeley produce
open-source semi-illicitly," Brenner says. "And I've been contacted by many
people who want the [open-source contract] arrangement."
A more radical response to privatization of the genome and bioinformatics
software would be to open up the entire scientific process. This is exactly
what Jeff Bizzaro, founder of Bioinformatics.org, proposes to do. His site,
which has attracted thousands of members from across the globe, hosts
open-source bioinformatics projects. But the site isn't just about
It's also about making the process of scientific discovery public and
collaborative. Bizzaro encourages scientists to post their findings on the
site so that, for example, two scientists could conduct complementary
experiments halfway across the globe from each other.
Bring the genome to the people -- that's the biopunk way. "
Von/From: Dipl.-Inform. Robert Gehring
E-Mail: rag cs.tu-berlin.de
privat: zoroaster snafu.de
Organisation: projekt oekonux.de
Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft ver.di
Potsdamer Platz 10, 10785 Berlin
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