[open-science] Planet Open Science

William Waites ww at eris.okfn.org
Wed Oct 15 23:03:32 UTC 2014

Hi Jack,

Debategraph is slick, but it is a proprietary service. In fact the
Ts&Cs are draconian enough that if I were to register an account in
order to learn how it worked and make a free version or a better
version, or even use some ideas from it in a different context, I
would be worried that your friend David Price would try to sue

Clearly he has done a lot of thinking about, as you put it, social
intercourse on the web, but perhaps he hasn't thought through the ways
in which services ought to respect their users. Perhaps the Ts&Cs were
just written by a lawyer who took the strongest "defending
intellectual property" stance by default and nobody really thought
about it. If so, maybe they could be changed to be more friendly and
changed so as to be less obviously designed to be bought out by one of
the megaservices. Or perhaps this was properly thought through in
which case I don't think it is an appropriate platform for organising
around open science.

It is also architecturally wrong. It is a silo, and designed as
such. That there may be an API "real soon now" is symptomatic that
ideas of federation and decentralisation were not built in from the
beginning, as they should be. There's a reason that the "Web2.0"
services are silos -- it's the only way to attract capital. And the
only reasons to build something that way are either out of naievety in
not understanding this or the intent to build it and sell the eyeballs
and data you've managed to collect.

I've copied David on this message in the hope he'll respond to the
list (list admins watch out for a message to be let through!)

William Waites
Research Fellow
School of Informatics
University of Edinburgh

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