[open-science] Planet Open Science

Jack Park jackpark at gmail.com
Thu Oct 2 15:27:52 UTC 2014

Peter raises a very important issue. I would like to address that issue by
offering a kind of "voucher" on behalf of Dr. David A. Price and Peter
Baldwin, the two fellows who co-created and run DebateGraph all by

We are all being conditioned by social network platforms to believe that we
are happy campers, playing in sandboxes brought to us through the kindness
of others.  But, it's really not like that, and Peter appears to be looking
for evidence of such a charade in the terms and conditions offered at
DebateGraph.  I'd like to respond to that.

There is no free lunch. Nowhere. So, the question really is this: how do
you want to pay for your free lunch?  Users of Facebook, Google, LinkedIn,
Twitter, and damn near every other emerging social network platform are
paying in this sense: we are not users, we are products being sold to
others; someone has to pay the light bills and salaries. We do it

I wish to offer a personal certification that DebateGraph is not like that.
Sure, it's free. But, as they clearly state on their site: they make a
living doing training and selling services. The issue for us is this: can
we trust them and take them at that word, or do we expect to see some exit
strategy emerge where, like freebase.com, they will eventually sell out to
the highest bidder?

That's the point to which I speak. I can only tell you what I believe, and

I spent two glorious, bouncy days sitting in the back of a rickety old bus
on a ride from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, traveling through Mostar, all that time
talking with David Price, mostly about business models and structured
conversations.  I'd like to think that I have a pretty fair insight into
his aspirations for DebateGraph. But, that all started in 2007 when I was
in Milton Keynes signing up to write a thesis at Open U, my thesis topic
being about how to make conversations on the web better. David Price
dropped in for lunch one day while I was there. I had already signed up for
DebateGraph (it was nowhere near as powerful then as it is today) since
engaging with Simon Buckingham Shum at Open U, and Jeff Conklin, got me a
link to debategraph.org; signing up was the easiest thing I had ever done.
At that lunch, I quickly realized that David was way out in front of me in
thinking through social intercourse on the web.

So, back to aspirations: please consider http://debategraph.org/amanpourcnn
That is a pro bono map created by David Price since he clearly believes
that Christiane Amanpour's interviews with world leaders were worthy of
capture and structure, leaving open the door to "continuing the

See, David and I orbit the space which attracts those who believe that
conversation is necessary, but not sufficient in solving global issues, as
well as doing science. So, if conversation is crucial, how can we do it
better? My thesis proposal, found here:
speaks to many, but not all of the issues.

DebateGraph addresses many of those issues. Yes, it is free. No, I do not
believe there is a hidden agenda based on some exit strategy; David and
Peter both come from backgrounds which inform their actions, ones for which
goals of improved global communication are entailed.

You might wonder this: can I get my data back?
I too wondered that. So, I started a conversation with David, which led to
receiving experimental dumps of one of my graphs to explore ways of
exporting.  I have every reason to believe that DebateGraph will soon have
a full sharing API in place, but I am patient; it is just two guys running
the show, doing what they think to be important.

None of that is meant to be taken as fact other than the events I describe;
I am simply stating what I believe.

On Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 7:58 PM, Peter Murray-Rust <pm286 at cam.ac.uk> wrote:

> I have read the Terms and Conditions of this site which are heavily
> weighted in favour of the company and I would not be happy about using it.
> P.
> --
> Peter Murray-Rust
> Reader in Molecular Informatics
> Unilever Centre, Dep. Of Chemistry
> University of Cambridge
> CB2 1EW, UK
> +44-1223-763069
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