The life sciences would seem, on the surface, ideal for open source. It’s a world built on disclosure – whether publication or patent – it doesn’t count until you tell the world. It’s a world where the knowledge itself snaps together in a fashion that looks eerily like a wiki, where one person only makes a small set of edits in an experiment that establishes a new fact. And it’s a world where the penalty for redundancy is high – no one in their right mind wants to spend scarce research dollars on a problem that has been solved already, a lead that is a dead end, a target guaranteed to lead to side effects.

John Wilbanks in his recent Xconomy piece, “Understanding Open Science”.


The life scienc…

Although the tools have become more advanced, the general practice of science hasn’t changed in hundreds of years.

Everything from the way projects are funded to the way results are publicized is based on a model that’s been around since the time of Newton. There are some notable exceptions, but the majority of institutions are structured in a way that worked in the past, but now hinders scientific progress.

Josh Siegle, PhD student at MIT, in this Quora thread on the most frustrating things about being a scientist.

My answer was: ‘A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others.’

But there is another basic requirement, and I can’t understand now how I forgot it at the time: that is the feeling that you are, in some way, useful. Usefulness, whatever form it may take, is the price we should pay for the air we breathe and the food we eat and the privilege of being alive. And it is its own reward, as well, for it is the beginning of happiness, just as self-pity and withdrawal from the battle are the beginning of misery.

Eleanor Roosevelt, when asked what her requirements are for happiness.

Anne smiled and said,

“My idea of good company, Mr. Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”

“You are mistaken,” said he gently, “that is not good company, that is the best. Good company requires only birth, education and manners, and with regard to education is not very nice. Birth and good manners are essential; but a little learning is by no means a dangerous thing in good company, on the contrary, it will do very well.”

Jane Austen in Persuasion