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Re: [ontolog-forum] NYT Rare Sharing of Data Leads to Progress on Alzhei

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010 07:37:38 -0400
Message-id: <4C692302.4060408@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Joanne, Matt, et al.,    (01)

I was watching a PBS documentary about a project that raised
questions similar to Matt's:    (02)

MV>> Well it seems like a utopian model, but at the same time
  >> in academics you are judged on your papers and grants.
  >> So without some exclusivity it is difficult for academics to cope.    (03)

It was about the BLAST project (Balloon-borne Large-Aperture
Submillimeter Telescope).  As a result of that project, which
involved some lengthy and expensive efforts to gather data about
the early universe, they managed to gather far more data than
they could analyze by themselves.  Following is a press release
about the project:    (04)

http://blastexperiment.info/press_release.php    (05)

That led to a serious dilemma:    (06)

  1. Should they keep the data to themselves until they were able
     to discover all that there was to be discovered?    (07)

  2. Should they put the raw data on the WWW so that anybody and
     everybody could analyze it, including people who hadn't made
     any contribution to the project that gathered the data?    (08)

The argument for #1 is that the team that got the data would
also get all the credit for everything they discovered.    (09)

But the argument for #2 is that it would take the small team
that gathered the data too long to analyze it by themselves,
and later projects with bigger telescopes might make their
data irrelevant.    (010)

But one of the project members had a bright idea:  publish
a paper about the project with a presentation of some early
discoveries from the data.  Then release all the raw data
on the WWW for more detailed analysis by anyone.    (011)

The advantage of that strategy is    (012)

  1. They would get the first publication with the earliest
     results.    (013)

  2. Anybody that used their data would have to cite their
     paper in any subsequent publications.    (014)

  3. They would get credit for many more citations in the
     literature than they could ever get if they published
     all the discoveries by themselves.    (015)

The press release summarizes their early results:  "all the
Far Infrared Background comes from individual distant galaxies,
essentially solving a decade-old question of the radiationís origin."    (016)

Moral of the story:  There are advantages to being altruistic,
especially if you can lock in a significant ROI.    (017)

John Sowa    (018)

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