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Open-Source Biology

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the sharing-knowledge dept.

Science 122

nicholast writes with this "article describing the growing use of open-source collaboration methods in biology. The subtitle and main question is: Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?"

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Hiz-at Trick (-1)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858796)

The Hiz-at trick, bitches!

Beaten (-1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858811)

By a worthy opponent. I salute you, mr. cheez. Down with closeted karma whores...down with ACs!

MOD PARENT UP! (-1, Offtopic)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858835)

I Agree With This Post.

CLAIMED (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859060)

Again, a first post claimed for the first worldwide AC congress at /. frist post.

-- quality AC claiming at work


govtcheez (524087) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859086)

Again, a first post made by a member of CLiT, and kept by it. ACs don't have any rights. At least have the decency not to fling your half-baked claims at the post completing my hat trick!

-- quality logged in troll claiming at work.

No (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858797)

No! But wishit could

early post (-1)

Captain Peacock (549525) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858798)

early post for me

first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858799)



Subject Line Troll (581198) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858800)

PRIMVS POSTVS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858801)

Can we open source Natalie Portman's biology?

Re:PRIMVS POSTVS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858828)

Good heavens, not her! Why don't we get some dame with (a) good looks and (b) acting ability.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858807)

First Post---- wa ha ha ha ha!


Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858888)

lol u r teh WROGN!!!

Sources of funding (3, Insightful)

jonman_d (465049) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858831)

I'm all for the free flow of information, expecially in science. But if there isn't an opertunity to make bundles of money, where is the funding going to come from? Government grants only go so far, after all.

Personally, I think that corperate funded science is a must...though I'm glad to see that some scientists are freely sharing information. The best way to do science is to combine both (which will never happen) and show corperations that they can get rich even when they share their data.

Re:Sources of funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858874)

"I think that corperate funded science is a must"

And you think wrong. You have no basis for that thought so we'll all ignore it.

Re:Sources of funding (3, Insightful)

mr_z_beeblebrox (591077) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858884)

Most biology is colloborative to a pretty high degree. Places pay for pertinent research and they pay for a well selected team if money exists, then those on the team have their own alliances to rely on etc... so normally there are several names to a project. I used to work in a USDA lab doing little piggy behaviour research at a NW Indiana University we worked with Drs from Pennsylvania on that project. Opening it further would be of significant value to the world but taking competition ouot would be detrimental to their paychecks I think... Karl

Re:Sources of funding (-1)

k0osh.CEOofCLIT (582286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859047)

Hooked for Life
by Vicki

My name is Ann. I am a 28 year old woman and happily married to a wonderful man. I am also an amputee. This is my story.

For as long as I can remember I have had a fascination with the thought of being an amputee. When I would see another woman who was missing a leg, or more desirably, an arm, I would get an enormous sexual arousal. I fantasized what life would be like if I was an amputee who was loved and adored by a wonderful man. I was a true wannabe. I found others like me on the Internet and made friends quickly. I found that there were many devotee and wannabe men, but very few females with my interests. This is how I met Richard. He was not a wannabe, but rather a true devotee of amputee woman. He was searching for the ideal amputee woman to eventually marry. Even though I was not an amputee, we decided to date, since my interests were as unique as his.

We dated for a number of months. During that time we would spend hours looking at our picture collections. They were all of women in various states of amputation. You may find it odd that I was only interested in pictures of other women amputees. However, you must consider that I was a wannabe and NOT a devotee. I did not want an amputee man as a lover. I was not a lesbian either. The woman in my pictures were my envy. During our relationship I tried to become a pretend amputee. We went through the one legged routine, and even went out in public with me on crutches with my leg tied up. However, it just didn't seem to satisfy us. At this point I must confess that my amputee interests were not quite the norm. I really did not have a strong desire to have either or both of my legs amputated. I had fabulous legs and loved to wear very short skirts, pantyhose, and high heels. I loved the feel of crossing my legs and showing them off. I didn't think I wanted to lose this capability. However, my arms were my target. Somehow the thought of missing an arm, or better, both arms would thrill me. I felt that if I would become an arm amputee I would really like to be a bilateral above the elbow amputee. Somehow just one arm wasn't enough. My remaining arm would make things too easy for me. I had to have the true handicap of being armless. Also, I found the thought of being fitted with prosthetic arms with hooks to be a real sendoff. I wanted to experience a life in which I did everything with my hooks.

One of the things that Richard and I would do was to cruise malls and other public places in search of female amputees. A good sighting would leave an impression that would allow us to have the most exquisite sex imaginable after we got back to Richard's home. The sighting that was to become a pivotal factor in our future was truly memorable. We were at the local mall and we spotted a woman about 30 years old sitting at a table in the food area. She was drinking a cup of coffee. She was very well dressed and wearing a short skirt and white silk blouse. What gave us an immediate thrill was the fact that her left sleeve terminated in a gleaming prosthetic hook. We could tell she was an above elbow amputee as she did not have the dexterity that a below elbow amputee would have had. We decided to follow her discreetly. She went into a major department store and into the misses sportswear section. We watched her as she used her hook to help examine clothing on the racks. She was gorgeous and both Richard and I were really getting turned on -- Richard because of seeing a beautiful amputee woman -- and me because I truly envied her.

What was to happen next is almost beyond words to describe. The woman headed for the ladies room. Of course I wanted to follow her. Richard had to wait outside, but I went in right after her. She went into a stall and I went into the stall next to her. We both exited the stalls at the same time and she went to the sink to rinse her one good hand. I went up to the sink next to her. I couldn't help but look right at her hook. To me it was a thing of great envy. I can't believe I said it, but I made up a complete lie.

"My brother lost an arm after a motorcycle accident and I know how difficult it can be."

"I am used to it, but sometimes there are some annoyances, like right now," she replied. "My harness has ridden up and is driving me crazy."

"Can I help?" I asked her.

"I don't want to impose, but could you help me take off my blouse and help me adjust my harness so I can work the cable controls more easily?" My heart leaped at the thought, to be able to see close up what an above elbow prosthesis looked like on a real woman.

"I would be happy to help," I eagerly replied.

The woman introduced herself as Jill. She suggested we go into the handicapped stall as she didn't want to alarm the other woman if any should come into the ladies room. We went into the handicapped stall which was nice and large. I unbuttoned Jill's silk blouse and helped her slip it off. She had on a beautiful satin and lace bra that held her very ample breasts. It was then that I got a full view of her prosthetic arm. I almost fainted. It was fabulous. I could see the socket for her above elbow stump, the special elbow joint with its control cable, and finally the other control cable running down to the hook that was screwed into her forearm. I knew then that I wanted to be fitted with an arm just like this, more than anything in the world. Better yet, two. I helped Jill adjust the harness and then get her blouse back on. She thanked me again and again for my help. After I went back outside I told Richard that we had to go to his place right away as I was in a state of unbelievable sexual arousal. I told him every detail.

After that experience we would talk for hours about how wonderful it would be if I was like Jill. I continued to fantasize about becoming an arm amputee. I decided that if I ever did, it would have to be above the elbow and absolutely had to be bilateral. I wanted both stumps to have prosthetic arms and, of course, nothing else but hooks. No artificial hands for me. The thought of being out with Richard with just my hooks showing from the sleeves of a tight sweater was almost too much to handle. I thought of the difficulty I would have in daily activities and that made me more excited. Our discussions went on for several weeks until Richard told me that he found out that there was a way in which I could actually be granted my wish. It had become his wish as well. He found out about a very special clinic in which special "cosmetic" surgeries of all kinds would be performed for the right price. Richard was quite well off financially and the cost would not be a problem. Was I really going to consider this? What about my job and my few other friends? After long periods of contemplation I decided that I really did want to go through with it. Richard offered to marry me if I went through with the amputations. I would no longer have to work and he would take care of me.

Three weeks later I was admitted to the clinic. It was a really weird place, but run by very skilled doctors who were more interested in money than anything else. Doctor Smith, not his real name, was to do my surgery. I never did find out his real name as none of the staff used their real names. He explained that my arms would be amputated about 3 inches above the elbows. That would give me a stump that would make the use of prosthetic arms more successful. I had told him that I wanted prosthetic arms very much. The day of my surgery came. I was thrilled. When I awoke later in the afternoon, my arms were bandaged. I could see that all I had left were my stumps. Richard was there and he kissed me. For a few moments I had the feeling that I made a terrible mistake. There was no going back though. It was too late. I wondered where my arms were. Did they pack them in ice? How do they dispose of them. It was an interesting thought, but I put it out of my mind.

For the next month I rapidly recovered. My stumps were healing. Richard helped with everything. Of course he had to feed and bathe me, and take care of helping me go to the bathroom. He followed the doctor's directions and wrapped my healing stumps in elastic bandages to keep the swelling down. During this period we had some fabulous sex, although it was a little different since I couldn't use my hands to caress Richard's manhood. I tried using my stumps, and that was a turn on. Richard said he couldn't wait until I could use me hooks on him. That was the day we were both waiting for.

The time finally came for me to get fitted for my prosthetic arms. My first visit involved the prosthetist taking plaster molds of my two stumps. They would be used to mold the sockets that my stumps would fit into. He said it would be about a week until the arms were ready. We couldn't wait. The days dragged by. The moment I was waiting for ever since seeing Jill's arm had finally arrived. The prosthetist brought the two arms over to us. The harness was already attached, but would need adjustment. I couldn't believe this was really happening to me. He and Richard unwrapped the thin bandages I still wore on my stumps. He asked me to raise my stumps. He then slipped a special stump sock over both stumps. It consisted of the two socks connected by a piece of the same material, that stretched over my shoulders and across my upper back. Next came the arms. I slipped my stumps into the sockets. The feeling was incredible. I knew I was soaking wet between my legs. I was as turned on as I could ever be. The prosthetist then adjusted the harness. The arms felt great. I looked down at the two hooks. My heart pounded. Was this really the way I would be for the rest of my life? I just couldn't believe it. After the fitting I received about two hours of initial training. Of course I would undergo many more hours learning to use my hooks.

Before we left I was able to raise and lower my new arms and open and close the hooks. I still had difficulty coordinating. I had to remember to unlock the elbow lock with one motion that controlled the elbow cable, and then use the other control motion on the main cable to raise or lower the arm. If I wanted to open or close the hook I had to lock the elbow first, or the arm would just raise. It took some practice. During this practice session I was just wearing my bra, to enable the prosthetist to see everything functioning. I got the feeling I was turning him on too. Now it was time to go. Richard helped my put on my sweater. It nicely covered my arms, my hooks descending below the sleeves.

"We're going out to dinner," Richard said. "To celebrate." We had not gone out since before my amputations. I didn't want to be seen armless. This would be a night I would always remember.

"Oh Richard, I don't know if I can handle it," I exclaimed.

"Don't worry, I will feed you if you can't manage. Let's play it be ear."

Before we left I looked in the mirror in the prosthetist's office and saw a beautiful woman wearing a very short skirt, black nylons, high heels, and having two gleaming hooks for hands. I had all I could do to stand up I was so turned on. I had dreamed of this for years. Now it was to be my reality. I would be hooked for life.

We drove to a nearby restaurant that was very elegant. I wondered what the reactions would be when we went in. Most people didn't notice us as the restaurant lights were fairly dim. The few people that did were obvious in their attempts not to stare. The hostess seated us at a table that allowed me to sit next to Richard so he could help to feed me. I was not yet able to use my hooks for eating a complete meal. I did struggle to do a few things for myself, but there was a lot to learn. We asked the waitress for a straw so I could drink without lifting the glass. Most of the time I had my hooks resting in my lap. I am sure that some people from far away wondered why Richard was feeding me. Those who were sitting close by would naturally realize my situation. I had several drinks and I felt wonderful. After desert we were anxious to get home.

The rest of the evening was to be the fulfillment of our sexual lust for each other, and especially now that I had my two new hooks. Richard undressed me down to my panties and bra. We couldn't get the bra off because the straps were under my harness. That item would have to wait since neither of us wanted me to be without my hooks. I then slowly undressed Richard with a little help on the hard parts. I used my hooks to pull down his underpants. He was as erect as it was possible to be. He pleaded with me to use my hooks to fondle his penis. As I tried this out he pulled me to the bed and kissed me. My arms were still extended to his crotch and my hooks were gently massaging his manhood. I regretted that I couldn't actually feel him with my hooks. However, I knew that later I would use my stumps to touch him and I would have exquisite feelings as my stumps rubbed him all over.

In the morning, it was the beginning of the weekend, I awoke quite early. I was so excited. I couldn't wait to get my arms back on and continue to practice using my hooks. I nudged Richard awake with my stumps.

"Let's get going, I have a busy day planned for us," I said.

"Do you want me to give you a bath before breakfast?"

"Let's do it," I replied.

Richard ran the water for me and I got into the tub. Richard carefully washed me all over and shaved my legs and under my stumps. He then dried me carefully. I said that I wanted to get my arms on as soon as possible so I could try to see if I could put on some of my own clothes. I needed Richard to put my bra on for me. I would never be able to do that. Not with a regular bra that is. He then helped with the stump socks and then the arms. The thrill was back. I took a look down at my shiny hooks and felt so good.

I was about to see if I could put on my own panties when I realized that I was about to get my period. I noticed some slight spotting on the panties of my nightie. Ever since I was a teenager I have been using tampons. I had a box of Tampax in the vanity. I asked Richard to get one out. I then wondered if I could do this myself and if Richard would want to watch. I explained what I had in mind and he said it would be a big turn on to see me struggle to insert the tampon with my hooks. I worked at it for 15 minutes. Richard watched the whole time and I noticed he was hard as a rock. I must have really turned him on. I had a lot of trouble but managed to unwrap the tampon. I grabbed it with my right hook and positioned it as best as I could for insertion. I had to try and try to get the hook into position to make the insertion into my vagina. I finally did get it started and pushed the applicator to the right depth. What was really tricky was using my other hook to push the tampon out of the applicator. When I had hands I used my index finger to do this. I was so proud when I finally managed to do it. I pulled the applicator out and held it over the waste basket and opened my hook. It dropped down silently. I then grasped my panties with both hooks and managed to pull them up. I was so pleased. I wasn't up to trying to put on pantyhose. That is very difficult and there is a risk of running the nylon. Richard did it for me. He then helped me with my usual very short miniskirt and with a beautiful white blouse. I slipped my feet into 3" heels to complete my outfit. Richard then combed my hair and put on my makeup. After doing this for some weeks now he was getting pretty good at it. Eventually I was able to do quite a bit of this myself. Holding makeup brushes was easy, but opening the little plastic boxes was another thing. I looked into the full length mirror on the door and was once again thrilled at my appearance.

I told Richard that I wanted to spend the entire day at the mall. I had a few things I wanted to buy and I wanted to show off my new hooks. Rather than use the over the shoulder style handbags that I used when I had arms, I now used a small pouch that belted around my waist. It contained the few essentials that I would need, some makeup, and a couple of Tampax tampons since the one I was wearing would need changing. I wasn't looking forward to this task because it was so difficult. We headed for the car and I felt so wonderful. I wasn't worried about being in public. I had gotten over that already. In fact, the stares gave me a funny kind of pleasure. There are very few double arm amputees and I had the pleasure of being in that very small group. The one thing I really wanted to do was to meet another female double arm amp like me. Little did I know at that time, but that wish would be granted sooner than I realized.

We arrived at the mall around 10:30 in the morning. I made sure my arms were not locked at the elbows so when I walked my arms would swing slightly and look more natural. Of course everyone could see my hooks below the sleeves of my blouse. We headed for the lingerie department of my favorite store. I wanted to buy some new bras and panties. I started to practice using my hooks by lifting both arms to about 90 degrees and locking the elbows. I could then open and close my hooks to grasp the bras and panties on the racks. It was really fun to do this. I was very proud when I was able to carry several bras and panties up to the sales counter and place them there. The sales clerk, a girl in her teens, was very nervous when she saw that I had no hands, only two hooks. Richard paid her and she put everything in a bag. She wasn't sure if she should hand it to me or not. I helped her embarrassing moment by saying that I would take it. I opened my right hook and grasped the bag. She awkwardly helped to slip it between my open hook. I let the hook close, unlocked the elbow and let the arm slowly drop. I was able to carry the bag with no effort and I said to Richard that I wanted to carry it.

Everything was going well when I realized that I had to go to the bathroom. I wasn't sure I could do this without Richard's help. I decided to try. I went into the ladies room and found an empty stall. Fortunately all the doors just pushed open. I couldn't possibly turn a door knob. I slid the lock with my hook. Next came the task of pulling my skirt up and getting my pantyhose and panties down. Getting them down wasn't so bad. I grabbed the sides and pushed them down as little as necessary to make the job of getting them back on easier. I sat down and relieved myself. I decided to change my tampon as well. Good thing, I was flowing pretty heavily. I was proud of myself as I was able to do this faster than the last time. Now came the struggle to get my panties up. The front was easy, but the back didn't want to pull up. I tried to get my hooks in back, but couldn't open them. Eventually I managed to do the job. The pantyhose were a nightmare. If it weren't for the heavier panty part I would have run them. I really couldn't get them exactly in position, but they would have to do. Richard was used to making sure my pantyhose were nicely positioned at my crotch. Some things were just too difficult with hooks. All in all I think it took me 20 minutes to get the job done.

"How did you make out?" Richard asked when I finally left the ladies room.

"Nearly impossible, but I did it."

"That must have been fun," Richard joked.

"Oh yeah," I retorted sarcastically. "Especially the tampon!"

After that Richard and I walked into the food court to grab a snack. I was getting quite hungry after our morning of shopping. Richard suggested that we find a seat and he would get the food after he put all my shopping bags down. We found a vacant table. As we were getting settled and considering what food to get, I noticed the woman several tables away. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was Jill, the woman who had catalyzed my decision to become armless. My jaw dropped in complete amazement as I expected to see her one good arm and instead saw that she now had two hooks showing below her sleeves. Apparently she had somehow lost her other arm and was now as armless as I was. I wasn't sure at the time, but would find out that that arm too was amputated well above the elbow. I just stared. I knew that I would have to go over to her and speak. I didn't know if she would remember me from our brief meeting several months ago. How would I explain how I had become armless too. I would think of something. Perhaps if I told her that it was yet too painful to talk about, that would give me time to think up a story.

I bravely walked up to Jill and reintroduced myself. She looked at me with shocked surprise. The odds of meeting another armless female in public was close to nil. She did remember me and how I had helped her. She never told me how she lost her first arm. She now said that she had a rare bone disease and that it had finally gotten the better of her other arm and it too had to be amputated. She also sadly told me that her legs were beginning to show the signs of the disease and that in all likelihood she would lose both legs within the next year. I didn't know what to say. I pictured her in a wheelchair both armless and legless. She asked me what had happened. I gave her a line that it was a freak accident and that I just couldn't bring myself to talk about it quite yet. Richard joined us and the three of us had lunch together. I think Richard was really tripped out by the sight of the two of us eating lunch using our hooks. Jill was quite a bit better at it than I was, but that would change. Jill suggested that the two of us come over to her house that evening for dinner and meet her husband Mark. The four of us would have a lot in common. We promised to get together at 7 PM that night. Jill gave us her address and it was close by. Richard and I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing up our shopping and then headed home to get ready for our dinner engagement. What a wonderful day.

Later I changed into a black sleeveless cocktail dress that came to above mid thigh length. I slipped on my 3" heels. I didn't think I would ever be able to wear that dress again because it had no sleeves. My prosthetic arms completely showed and it would be disturbing to most people. My hooks were bad enough. I didn't worry about this tonight, because I knew Mark would be used to seeing prosthetic limbs considering Jill's amputations. As we left I glanced in the mirror and liked what I saw.

We arrived right on time and were greeted by Jill. We went inside their apartment and Jill introduced us to Mark. Richard had a very strange look on his face.

"Don't we know each other?"

Mark thought for a minute and a smile came on his face.

"Yup, we met about a year ago because of our mutual interests."

It then came to Richard. Mark was a devotee too, and they had met after emailing on the Internet. This was beginning to get very interesting. At this point I didn't suspect that Jill was anything but what she claimed, a woman suffering from a rare disease.

It took about three hours into the evening, and many drinks, before all of us loosened up. As it turns out, Jill was just like me, a voluntary amputee. She had even gone to the same doctor. At first she had only one arm amputated. Mark and Jill enjoyed Jill's new one arm state for about a year. But after that, something was lacking. Things were too easy for Jill. She didn't feel quite right. Somehow the lack of symmetry of her arms bothered her. They discussed the issue and decided that Jill would have her other arm amputated as well. Of course that did take place and now Jill was much happier. We finally explained that I had opted for the double amputation right away.

"You made the right choice," Jill said. "It was better to do it all at once. It probably wasn't twice the pain as it was for me."

The evening went on and on as we shared our thoughts. Jill was wearing a sleeveless top and her usual short skirt. She didn't care that her prosthesis was as visible as mine. Mark said that he really liked Jill to wear only a bra when around the house. He said that she usually wore only a bra, panties, and heels while in the house. She also quite often wore a garter belt and stockings. Mark loved the look. I thought that I would try that for Richard. Life for Richard and I was the best. I was by now completely functional in using my hooks. I felt that I once again had real arms. Even though I couldn't feel anything below my stumps, it was like I really did have arms. As time went on I felt less and less handicapped. We continued to socialize with Jill and Mark. Jill and I would go out together frequently. We got a lot of looks, but didn't care. We loved to shop together and could help each other try things on. We often wondered what people thought as they looked at two beautiful women using their hooks. That gave us an even greater thrill. I was happier than I ever imagined I could be. Becoming armless was the best thing I ever did.

Re:Sources of funding (2, Insightful)

Directrix1 (157787) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859655)

Open-source biology will never appear to the outsider to be outpacing 'closed-source' ones, because the closed-source ones will quickly absorb any information presented to them and create a derivative product. After which they will market the hell out of it.

Re:Sources of funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3860311)

The government funds most of the biological research done in the US and gives away (to the University/College where the Principal Investigator works) all the rights to anything that could be worth money. So we end up spending grant dollars for things that were developed using the taxpayer's money. You would think that it might be in the government's best interest to retain the rights to publicly funded research and then sell anything marketable to industry for the price of the original grants plus some very small percentage of the proceeds (and set a maximum price for selling it academic researchers). Of course, then we'd have to make sure the money went back to the granting institute and stayed out of Congress's control....

Corporate lackeys will win every time (2, Insightful)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858846)

Think about it. One group shares information, one group doesn't. So, the group that doesn't share takes information from the group that does, and *boom*, automatically one group knows more. It's a nice idea though.

Re:Corporate lackeys will win every time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859011)

You falsely assume that information flow is frictionless. It takes time and energy to stay up to speed in a new field. Reading the papers doesn't put you at the forefront of research, it puts you trailing behind by a year or two.


Re:Corporate lackeys will win every time (2, Insightful)

Ashtangi (583372) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859057)

I had the same notion. But then reconsidered a bit after reading a post further down. The "closed" scientific group will never benefit from an open review of their modifications. This could send them down the wrong tracks for long periods. IN the OSS movement it is the equivalent of the group debug session. Simply stated there is value to the giver in sharing knowledge openly.

Re:Corporate lackeys will win every time (1)

Sgt York (591446) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859202)

That is true, to an extent. Corporations do have a peer review system, but it is nowhere near as elaborate as what you have in the "open" community. They have networks of collaborators that have signed nondisclosure agreements that review proposals and research, and this does give them a degree if peer review. It pales in comparison, however, with presenting your project at an international conference in a focus group of dozens of the top minds in your field. One weekend at one of these can alter the whole course of your research, show whole new avenues to pursue, and open you to things that had never before even crossed your mind.

the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858848)

Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?

No, because the corp. researchers can always just look and take the innovations of the open source. Not to menntion the millions of corporate dollars backing these projects and fanatical secrecy.

Open Source Biology isn't limited to biogenetics (5, Interesting)

jfrumkin (97854) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858854)

For instance, we're doing an open source phylogenetic project called The Tree of Life [] , which promotes both the open access to phylogenetic information, and open source software through the code itself. Many biologists are using open source software to further their research - case in point in O'Reilly's recent Bioinformatics conference.

Re:Open Source Biology isn't limited to biogenetic (3, Informative)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859044)

Indeed. I'm an undergrad doing ecology research with computers. The Bio* (bioperl, biolisp, &c) projects have nothing to do with a lot of other branches of biology and bioinformatics. Perhaps they should all just rename their projects to genetic* (geneticperl, &c).

At least some of bioinformatics stuff (eg bioperl) includes some phylogeny stuff. Or, so I was told by someone on #bioinformatics on OPN.

Re:Open Source Biology isn't limited to biogenetic (2)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859070)

Whooops. I forgot to mention what Free/Open Source Software I use. The open source software I use for ecology research is: a lot of custom software in Squeak Smalltalk (including a dataset visualizer), CLISP Common Lisp, perl, and gnuplot. On top of Linux sometimes even.

Thats not even a fair question... (-1)

DonkeyHote (521235) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858861)

Using OSS software, they'll be too busy dealing with the dreaded blue screen of death (BSOD).

I hope they can find someones with an MCSE to support it!

Answer (4, Funny)

NiftyNews (537829) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858871)

"The subtitle and main question is: Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?"

Answer: No, certainly not. That will never work. Why do you ask such silly questions?

Automated Response Unit for Data-Hoarding Corporate Researchers, Inc.

Answer, AND REASON [for gene stuff] (1)

The_Guv'na (180187) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859173)

Corporations are patenting human genes as they find them, without even knowing what they do. Hence, any gene-related answers found by "open source" methods of research are pretty much screwed if theres a related patent. Just take a look at this [] for an example of how that method of profiteering already works, albeit for M$ vs OpenGL.

You know, I'm pretty sure I heard an American (!!!) president say something to the tune of "The human genome belongs to the human race!"... Hmmm, nevermind.


The subtitle is misleading corps out market not -- (2)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859321)

out innovate.
The purpose of a corporation is to create wealth for the shareholders. Wealth is created in markets. Corporations produce marketing first and foremost. People commonly confuse marketing with innovation. Just because a label says "New and Improved" or "Upgrade" doesn't represent a genuine innovation in the academic sense. To the consumer it is often enough to produce a sale and so it's a valuable corporate tool. But confusing this image of innovation with genuine innovation as the term is used in universities is foolish in the extreme.
Moreover, the patent strategies of major corporations, particularly since the formation of the pro-monopoly Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit in 1982, has been to stifle innovation by staking a claim around a certain financially rewarding intellectual avenues by flooding those patent areas with patents to be used as offensive weapons. This is not innovation by any means although it involves applying for many patents which can be used to provide a false argument that such corporations are innovators when they are, in fact guided by financial and legal experts rather than technicians.
Almost all innovation takes place in schools and not by professors, but by their students. It has been this way all along and people who don't understand this can be forgiven because the history of education is a boring subject for many of today's youth. However, it is not mysterious by any means and the subtitle of the paper suggests the authors are uninformed at best.

A wicked new excuse (2)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858877)

"No dear, I'm not having an affair with my secretary! It's... open source biology!"

Re:A wicked new excuse (-1)

k0osh.CEOofCLIT (582286) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859090)

dont you mean "open source homosexuality"

Watch your ass! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858880)

Gnutella developper possibly murdered [] Why isn't this on the front page? Did CmdrTaco receive any threats from the RIAA/MPAA? This is SERIOUS SHIT!

No, Intelectual Property is Essential (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858895)


Research is hard, and experiments aren't cheap.

Biologists who "hoard" their work do it because they're better. They have something to gain by protecting their research.

By contrast, the open-source looters don't invent anything, so they have something to gain by removing protections on research or intellectual property.

Flamebait, granted. (2, Interesting)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859065)

But it did make me think of one thing. All of the following are true:

Research is hard

Experiments aren't cheap

Many excellent biologists will hoard their work out of enlightened self interest. There will of course be individuals who see farther than that.

Some of those embracing the open source idea in this area (and anywhere an approach like that is used) will be riding coat tails and merely opportunistic. There will of course be a greater number of these men and women who are genuine in their desire to collaborate regardless of their abilities.

The real opportunity for something exceptional to come of this is when someone who IS better than his peers at what he does shares what he has with those other biologists.

Then you have a chance for one or more of those people to see that information from a different perspective and that's when the benefits are going to be obvious. It's a more optimistic take but I think in this case it's also more realistic as well.

"hoarding" research (2)

No Such Agency (136681) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859649)

Many excellent biologists will hoard their work out of enlightened self interest. There will of course be individuals who see farther than that.

One of the nice points of the current scientific system is that there's no (academic) reward for hiding your results or failing to disclose some special secret technique you invented. No results = no publication. No publication = no reputation. No reputation = no grant funding and no tenure, or at least inglorious obscurity if you're already tenured ;-)

Of course, once money is involved, there's a tendency to want to keep everything under wraps until it's patentable. And to be sure, often labs will withhold their data from competitors until it's been submitted to a journal. But that's only fair, and even competitors will usually cooperate on some level in "academic" science. I remember a friend saying how her lab and another lab agreed to publish their very similar papers in the same issue of a journal, so neither one was "scooped". As a result, they reinforced each others' credibility instead of fighting over it.

First Open Source Biology Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3858898)

Human DNA simulator in perl!
perl -e 'for (1..1000000) { print ${[G,T,C,A]}[int(rand() * 4)] }'
-- This is my penis. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

I wish we studied using open-source methods (3, Funny)

unformed (225214) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858909)

especially when studying the

(drumroll please)

female anatomy.

Re:I wish we studied using open-source methods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859093)

as for the male anatomy, with guys like you there wouldn't be enough to go around.

talk about "security through obscurity"

Re:I wish we studied using open-source methods (2)

belgin (111046) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859482)

Most medical schools do use cadavers for studies of human anatomy. An open cadaver would allow the proto-doctors to study placement and composition of human tissues and organs in as close to a real, live patient as one can get without endangering a life.

If you meant that you wanted your high school introductory biology class to cut open live women so the you could look at a fallopian tube, you are all kinds of sick.

If you wanted to stare in non-comprehension at a naked female in class, you would have been better off with a figure studies class. Those are art classes, FYI.

When are they going to make Dinosaurs? (3, Funny)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858913)

Seriously folks, I don't want to read about sharing and caring groups of biology folks working together for a the betterment of mankind. I mean, it's nice and all but against companies with bottomless pockets they are hopelessly out gunned.

What I really want is for greedy out the ass corporations to start cloning dinosaurs and creating new kinds of pets like squirrels with four asses.

That and some kind of new food that's blue. Ever notice there isn't any naturally occurring blue food? Don't say Blueberries cause the darned things are really just purple.

Re:When are they going to make Dinosaurs? (0)

Mr_HappyFunTime (591147) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859042)

Didn't you see Jurassic Park....Newman (seinfeld) got freakin wasted. Would you really want that?

Sure things didn't work out that time.... (1)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859081)

But didn't we all really hate Nedrey anyway? Besides when we have control... food (1)

gmulert (547453) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859167)

While I'd love to see more blue foods, I'd be content with a personal blue slushee machine. Ah, to be back at my alma mater [] , with the blue slushee machine in the dining hall...

Some of my favorite recipies:

  • blue slushee + sprite or similar = sparkling blue slushee
  • blue slushee + cranberry juice = red and blue parfait-style beverage
  • blue slushee + orange soda = "swamp water"
  • 9:1 chocolate milk:blue slushee = raspberry-chocolate milkshake (sorta)

-Greg "C'mon, try it! It's really good!" Mulert

Re:When are they going to make Dinosaurs? (3, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859213)

what about really cold raw chicken?

Possibly...How cold? (1)

JudgeFurious (455868) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859286)

But it's nature is not to be blue. It's "normally" for the sake of argument a different color and so unless a certain number of circumstances were met then it would be disallowed by the judges.

If it was rendered cold and thus turned blue naturally then you are still in the game however if it had to become so cold that it was rendered un-eatable in order to get the color than it would be hard to consider it food. Artifically making it cold enough to turn blue would put it the same catagory as a multitude of man-made blue foods that are all better tasting and more palatable than cold raw chicken.

It could be chicken-sickle on a stick I guess.

Blue killer lobsters! (0)

Migrant Programmer (19727) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859287)

There is naturally occurring blue food!

Lookee! []

The four assed version is coming soon, watch for it!

Re:Blue killer lobsters! (1, Funny)

e-gold (36755) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859428)

A 4-assed lobster would be pretty cool, but I'd want them to concentrate on making an 8-clawed stone-crab! YUM!! :)

Anyway, i'd been thinking one of you'd mention the new blue M&Ms (hey, around me these occur naturally!)

Scientific Journals Obsolete (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858917)

Back when it was possible to read all the journals relating to a particular field cover to cover, it made sense for scientific dscoveries to be published in journals. Now, however, there is just too much data out there and what is needed is a curated (by online volunteers) heirarchichal database. From the article, it sounds like Gilman is doing just that. I wouldn't be surprised if scientific journals become obsolete in the next 20 years.

Re:Scientific Journals Obsolete (1)

Sgt York (591446) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859112)

Been there, done that.

PubMed []

Re:Scientific Journals Obsolete (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859350)

My impression was that PubMed was a database of journal articles rather than a database of the data itself.

Along those lines, I suspect that an equally important factor preventing "open source biology" will be the policy of scientific journals to not publish that has been "published" previously. That is, if you contribute your data to an open source database, you may not then be able to publish it.

Re:Scientific Journals Obsolete (2, Informative)

Sgt York (591446) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859871)

PubMed is just part of the database. I should have labeled it more properly, it's really NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). IT consists of BLAST , GENBANK, PubMed , OMIM , Entrez, taxonomy information, and structural databases. You can also link out to more specialized databases from NCBI. Some of these are incredible; you can find out (for example) all that is known about tissue distribution of protein X. Or all gene products found in, say, the kidney. Or the cortex of the kidney. Or the distal tubule.

There is also OVID, which is an online database of journals available at most universities. Not completely opensource, but for all practical purposes (at least from the perspective of the scientist), it is "open source" "policy of scientific journals to not publish that has been "published" previously"

Science literally changes hourly. There are things I thought were true on Monday, that I know are patently untrue today (seriously, specific things). There's no point in writing them down until you reach a reasonable degree of certainty. Publication is the last step before it leaves your hands entirely, it finalizes what you have say.

Presentation at conferences, retreats and workshops; poster sessions, informal review (passing your manuscript around to all of your buddies before publication), and the all important coffee room are what comprise the "open source" community of science for works in progress. Sharing prior to publication is like sharing prior to ever trying to compile your code. You'd look like an idiot.

Ron is your answer (1)

KingKire64 (321470) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858918)

Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?

Ron Jeremy doesnt hoarde his biologly and hes as successful as they come... Ohhh Scientists... well Ron was a school teacher before he became a star, maybe he was a biologly teacher.

OT Re: Your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859293)

When do you stop wishing she will come back and go out and get laid?

Today. No. NOW. Trust me, it's better that way. She can go fuck herself

A boon for the do-it-yourself types! (2)

nizo (81281) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858935)

The subtitle and main question is: Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?"
Who says you won't be able to have your very own clone of yourself someday? Now if we could just get some of the other fields to go this route, we could make our own antibiotics at home, have a horde of clone slaves, and power our houses with cold fusion reactors.....

Of course the biologists will win... (2, Interesting)

Liora (565268) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858937) the long run.

I work in the power industry. While we do not necessarily share our source code outright (well, no one has asked), we share data like crazy. We don't hoard it because it wouldn't make sense. Our matrices and equations and system solving methods HAVE to be shared with our clients so they can ensure that we're actually giving them something that does what they think it does. Does this mean that other people are going around doing what we do? Not really, because we do it better.

If you are really good at something, other people aren't going to bother trying to do what you do because it's not worth the trouble. Just like the way I paid for someone to move my piano today. I could have gotten a bunch of friends together to do it and rented a dolly and truck, but that took way too much effort.

Convenience, much like advancements in science are going to benefit everyone. Someday, everyone who doesn't add value to society in some way is going to operate on the fringe (well, they already do to some extent), and all information will be shared for the greater good of all. If we collaborate with other industry leaders to come up with new features for our software or to help our clients do things better, it will always benefit us in the long run. The same will be true for the biologists and eventually corporations will get a clue as well.

It depends... (2)

naoursla (99850) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858954)

Not if the corporate researchers have access to the open work too. You would need a group of researchers who share information only amongst themselves, but then it wouldn't be "open research".

Free Flow of information? (2, Interesting)

parad0x01 (549533) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858967)

One reason why this won't work, is that researchers depend on their discoveries in order to write papers and grants, which gives them more money to make more discoveries. If a small lab of a few people were to share all their information, then right before completion a huge corporation comes in and takes all credit, then that little lab is screwed.

Another problem is that researchers can go months, even years on wrong information, and theories. If these were published, yes theres a possibility they could be discounted, but they could be perpetuated, with lots of wrong data all over the place.

Finally, there is alot of information being shared within the biomedical industry. Many experiments are based on those found in published papers, there are guest speakers bi-weekly telling people about their successful research and we can take that information and test it, or we can tell them we have found that method doesn't work.

I believe that adding an extra layer of communication would further cloud things.

Re:Free Flow of information? (2, Insightful)

manobes (541867) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859071)

Another problem is that researchers can go months, even years on wrong information, and theories. If these were published, yes theres a possibility they could be discounted, but they could be perpetuated, with lots of wrong data all over the place.

How is this different from any other science. I mean, in physics, there's lots of papers out there that will eventually be shown to be wrong. That's how science is supposed to work.

It's a shame that biology has become so profitable. Hoarding data and discoveries is not how science advances. The history of chemsitry and physics are ample illustrations of that fact.

Re:Free Flow of information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3860100)

It's not a shame at all that biology has become profitable. What is a shame is the types of patents that are allowed to these biological findings. In most instances it is a non-issue. If a biological finding is developed behind closed doors, this data is the heart of the company. Once these findings are done in the public domain, it is no longer an issue. So the worst case scenario is some redundancy in research. On the other hand, companies like Celera have actively contributed to public databases, using investors money to take on projects that would take 40 years to get the enourmous price tag from the government.

It becomes a problem when companies are able to patent things like viruses. For a specific example, Abbot Labs has a patent to the second less common form of HIV. Many companies in the U.S. have 2 hour HIV tests that they cannot sell due to Abbot's unwillingness to undermine their more expensive 2 week test in the Unites States.

Again, this is a problem with the U.S. Patent Office. Not with corporate research.

Re:Free Flow of information? (1)

bigfatlamer (149907) | more than 12 years ago | (#3860115)

Another problem is that researchers can go months, even years on wrong information, and theories. If these were published, yes theres a possibility they could be discounted, but they could be perpetuated, with lots of wrong data all over the place.

How is this different from any other science. I mean, in physics, there's lots of papers out there that will eventually be shown to be wrong. That's how science is supposed to work.
Agreed. However it's not so much that people don't want to publish things that will be disproven as it is that they don't want to publish negative data. This is a real problem as the above poster points out. If you have 3 or 4 labs pursuing the same project, you could end up with them all pursuing the same dead end leads wasting years of work and hundreds of thousands of public research dollars. If on the other hand, the first group to get those negative results had published them (and part of the problem is that there isn't really anywhere to publish negative results) then that group would have had another publication on their collective roster and the other groups could have avoided wasting time on money on this line of investigation.
It's a shame that biology has become so profitable. Hoarding data and discoveries is not how science advances. The history of chemsitry and physics are ample illustrations of that fact.
FWIW there is still plenty of sharing going on in biology. The genome projects (human, mouse, yeast and others) are good examples of that. Sure, there's the private, Celera stuff out there but the public projects at NIH-NCBI [] and EBI-Ensembl [] are excellent examples of those.


an example, and some experiences. (5, Informative)

mkoz (323688) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858977)

As a scientist involved in a largescale database ( that is trying to build a large collaborative project I can say a couple of things about my experience.

1. Working in groups can be very difficult... i.e., when people don't share the same priorities, or see the same sources of bias as important.

2. It can be very helpful... often times getting other people's perspective is very informative. Generally in science we get feedback at the end (publication review), but here it happens at all stages, including data collection. This is really good.

3. People tend to start off thinking that they need to protect and hide data, but once they start to share data they tend to become big fans of sharing data.

4. Data transparency is essential to good science, these type of projects make that more and more possible. It does not take people long to realize how useful it is to have open and easily excessible data.

5. It is very important to open code used in analyses. I am in the process of working on a couple of papers where we have written some code to perform some fairly complex calculations. While I would like to say I am a great programmer, reality has a way of intruding. Collaboration has vastly improved the code, and I fully intend to post the code when I am finished with it. (for fear of being slashdoted I will not post the URL here).

Innovative Technologies (1)

acasto (591344) | more than 12 years ago | (#3858994)

Although to control the knowledge is an extreme source of power, we must remember there is a plethera of unfound, hidden talents and ideas out there. Corporate research is bound by the limits of their budgets, organization, internal abilities, etc... Where open research has many advantages, such as being able to slip into research projects with universities, possibly coming across some great innovations that would have otherwise remained hidden. I would equate it to mining and processing. When your mining, you may get lucky and strike it rich. When your processing, your rather constant and steady. It does have interesting aspects though!

Out-compete - not really relevant (3, Interesting)

blakestah (91866) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859017)

Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?"

Competition is sometimes relevant, but not in general. The scientist seeks to further the knowledge base, to reinforce his hypotheses, and their sub-hypotheses, etc. The corporation wants to make money.

Now, the scientist, in his quest to further knowledge, has no responsibility to avoid the intellectual property of others. If something is copyrighted, he cites it. If something is patented, he uses it anyway for research, with no necessity to pay to use the patent (unless, of course, there is no other way to get the invention).

The corporation, in its quest to make more money, need not even establish that something will work before it can establish IP. Knowledge is not directly relevant - they only need to set up tolls on the highway to commerce in the form of patents and copyright.

Sometimes, conflict exists. Celera is patenting genes, but only if they find them before NIH (which makes their database public). But in general the goals are different, patents can come from the work of scientists without interfering in the future work of the scientist (it is important to avoid conflicts of interest, usually by the scientist having no control or material interest in patent licensing - this is often not the case), and corporations establish their tolls without even paying attention to knowledge.

This has already been proven... (3, Insightful)

IQ (14453) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859035)

"question is: Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?"

Unless this isn't 'biology' the human genome project has already succeeded in beating out a private commercial project with the human genome map.

biologists (0, Offtopic)

j1mmy (43634) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859053)

can you imagine a beowulf cluster of these?

they should release biology under the GPL!

New Sourceforge Project (2)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859074)

I'm announcing a new project, ADAM 2.0. Think of it as GNOME, but taller. I'll need a team of designers, developers, and unit testers. Recombinant DNA experience a plus. Naturally, I'll be team leader - don't all team leaders (open source and otherwise) think they're God anyway?

The only thing that worries me is the six day schedule to ship...

Re:New Sourceforge Project (1, Offtopic)

edremy (36408) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859590)

I'm announcing a new project, ADAM 2.0.

I'm sorry, but as the father to one Adam Lewis Remy, I'm afraid you are infringing on my trademark.

You have 30 days to alter the name to something that will not be confusing to any person in the human race, or I will sic my battalion of trained attack weas^H^H^H^Hlawyers on you.

Please don't hurt me... (1)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859898)

Did I say "ADAM"? Er, uh, I meant "ADIM." Honest.

Keywords (2, Interesting)

ThereIsNoSporkNeo (587688) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859082)

Is it just me, or does getting to the front page of Slashdot involve adding certain statements to articles.

"And that's what I think about Australian jumping elephants... oh and:
Linux, Open Source, and Microsoft Sucks"

"Open Source" science was practiced long before "Open Source" programming. In fact, it was the rule, rather than the exception until just recently. Bonding science to the corporate marketplace, while extremely profitable, also leads to a great deal of "Re-inventing the wheel". Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend back toward a detached scientific community.

Stupidist Thing I've ever Heard !!! (0)

geekster_2000 (580578) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859092)

yeh right like corp. america wont steal
the work of the group because one of the
group is greedier than the rest !!

doesnt anybody read the paper, let me elucidte !

Enron, VP Cheynee, Stewart, Global Crossing, Merrill lynch, WorldCom, Anderson, Xerox, IBM,
blah blah blah blah blah.

thievery and greed is among us because our
universities, colleges, parents, mentors
have taught win at all cost, screw the next
guy, who gives a damn just WIN !!

I think a pretty sad state of affairs for the
human race but thats reality wed. 7/10/2002 !!!

Open Source Biology? (1, Offtopic)

sheepab (461960) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859094)

Does that mean my brain is GPL'ed?

I await the day... (2, Insightful)

Biggles_the_pilot (564535) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859103)

The open source model is something I readily dream about in finance research. The greatest proportion of papers published in journals come from universities with big reputations, not because of there being smarter people at Havard, for example, although to a certain extent that's true, but because of the amount of money they are free to spend on data, and the amount they already have, whereas smaller, lesser known universities, with never-the-less, a capacity for valuable output must scrape the bottom of the barrel just to get enough data for a decent conference paper.

I think there is a sort of un-uttered agreement that the journal review process exists, and that data is kept tightly protected because the establishment ensures proper quality of published output. In days gone by, perhaps that was a feasable approach, but with the advent of open source, and the thousands of developers forums throughout the web, I believe that finally there is a tangible example that argues for a complete overhaul in approach.

Despite the massive size and wide distribution of the community, there is still some, nay much, order to open source. There is some sort of consensus on the best distro, or the best app. for this or that. Reliable, secure and stable abound in open source; the bolts of excellent software are clear despite the storm. Open source has tipped arguments for the Cathederal, or a stuffy establishment that upholds integrity, on its head. The Bazaar works. People can be rewarded for the value of their output, and not their ability to horde.

In terms of a long term world view, I believe open information is the future in all areas of human endevour. How does a company create value by selling the same data, the same idea, a billion times. Let them be fairly recompensed for their effort in gathering the data, or putting the idea into a servicable form, and leave it at that.

Open source has demonstrated that the Bazaar is able to sort the elite from the mundane, and what's more, the volume and value of the output would not have been possible within a single closed establishment.

Oh, I wish, I wish, I wish that data and information was open. I wish that governments would legislate against data and idea hording; I believe such intervention passes the test of expediency. All hording does is hold back the ability of so many people to produce so much valuable output. This is the future for all important areas of human endevour if we ever want to make more of our precious progress before the earth is consumed by the sun.

I have much more to rant about, but you've probably stopped reading by now anyhow.

Pretty ignorant article (4, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859131)

Two points:

1) The idea of sharing information within and beyond the scientific community is hardly a new one. On the contrary, if anything secrecy has increased in recent decades, partly because of industrial applications but mostly becuase science is much bigger and more cutthroat than when it was a wealthy gentleman's pursuit.

The sort of collaboration described here is new and is driven by the Internet and by the large data sets in current biology. But to say that scientists got the idea to share information from Linus Torvalds is idiotic. That's not even where computer scientists got the idea.

2) Claiming that patents encourage "hoarding" of information is the sort of thing you expect to see in +1 Slashdot comments. The whole point of patents is to _encourage_ the sharing of information instead of relying on secrecy. Inventors trade disclosure for a temporary monopoly.

Again, there's a germ of truth here that companies after a patentable discovery need to be closed-mouthed about their progress, but that's probably given the author too much credit.

Re:Pretty ignorant article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3860656)


You can not patent that you discovered that gene sequence X makes enzyme Y. You can only patent "a method of making enzyme Y in mass quantities using rDNA in host systems".
But the standard flow for making a helpful enzyme is to first find the gene(s) that encodes enzyme Y, so what the author is complaining about is as soon as somebody found out that gene X makes enzyme Y they would publish that. So a drug based on enzyme Y could be discovered by whoever is quickest after that point. But now the gene is kept secret to not give a competitor any advantage to make enzyme Y.

Re:Pretty ignorant article (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 12 years ago | (#3860985)

Sure -- that's the point I was trying to make at the end. (I dashed that post off while pouring a gel...) But:

1) In the absence of patents, companies wouldn't reveal anything about the compound or the pathway it affects. The purpose of patents is to allow inventors to at least release information after they've filed.

2) Publishing a paper on gene Y is the way science has worked for over a thousand years. Maybe financial pressures have reduced that (although the article greatly exaggerates how much work is done by industrry or by patent-minded academic researchers) but it's silly to suggest that the idea of sharing information came from Linux development.

Actually, it just occurred to me that the article suffers from Eric Raymond Syndrome. It treats openness and collaborative work as the same thing, which they're absolutely not. If it had argued that collaborative research is becoming exponentially more common, it would be absolutely correct.

Resources for aspiring 3l337 B105CR1PT K1DD13?? (-1, Flamebait)

A55M0NKEY (554964) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859147)

Does anyone know where an aspiring biohacker can learn the basics to monkey with genetic engineering / kool bioexperiments in their kitchen? I was a bio major in college for 1.5 years before switching majors but since I program all day I think playing with sonmething else in my spare time would be more fun.

I don't mean taking courses in bio either, strictly amateur stuff or neat books that are readable by people with limited bio knowlege.

What would be involved in say splicing the cannabis gene for THC into a peanut plant..?

libertarian atheist reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859153)

All IP laws are against libertarian thought. They are too much government. If you want to protect your IP, do it through technology, but don't expect government to prosecute anyone for stupid IP offenses.

Re:libertarian atheist reply (1)

cyril3 (522783) | more than 12 years ago | (#3860850)

heck, i knew that. god told me last week.

Uh Huh (-1)

GafTheHorseInTears (565684) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859157)

Yeah, at a party last weekend, Timothy's sister gave me and some friends a demo of some "open source biology", so to speak.

"Public domain" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859201)

The article uses the tag "public domain" very loosely. Is the information on these sites really placed into the public domain, or is it copyrighted but released with a free license like the GPL? Can bigpharma copy some data from one of these databases, then patent it and prevent the real discoverer from publishing the same data?

Old news -- it happens already (0)

pmanheier (316056) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859203)

Scientific journals already facilitate the coined "open source" approach in sciences like biology. The scientific community validates experimental findings through duplication -- something made possible by the fact that researchers publish their methods and results.

I've been doing research for GE Medical for the past year in the area of monitoring the heart. Our study on skin types and signal degradation will be published for all to gain from and, at the same time, GE will use the data for implementation of more advanced detection features. Perhaps the exchange of info could be more direct, but biology simply isn't program code. There are different rules.

A typical slashdot day by poopbot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859215)

Credits: anonymous

"Mmmm... this feels good..." I sighed.
"Shhh!" hissed Hemos. "We don't want Mark to come in here!"

True. Having Hemos's 16 year-old brother walk in on us at that moment would not be good. I didn't think he'd be too cool with finding his 12 year-old brother lying naked with me, holding my 11 year-old dick in his hands. But, in all fairness, my hands were eagerly playing with Hemos's dick and balls at that moment, too.

Hemos's mom and dad had gone to the drive-in, leaving his big brother in charge. In our favor, leaving Mark in charge pretty much guaranteed that we weren't to bother him, and in turn, he'd leave us alone unless we were making too much noise or breaking something. Well, we were being careful to keep quiet because we very much wanted to be left alone.

We were in Hemos's twin bed, snuggled under the covers with our underwear pushed down to the foot of the bed. The only illumination in the room came from the faint sliver of light that crept in under his bedroom door. Even in the shadows I could make out the shape of my friend; about my height, but heavier. (Hell, I was such a skinny runt that everyone was heavier than me.) Hemos had a crew-cut of white-blonde hair, and was only starting to sprout some pubic hair. But, you had to feel for it because what little pubic hair he possessed was as blonde as the short hair on his hea and could not yet be seen by even a minimal distance.

And, I was happily feeling for it, running my hands all over Hemos's slightly larger erection and fondling his larger testicles while he courteously stroked my dick. I could tell that he didn't possess the same enthusiasm for cockplay as I did, unless you count his appreciation for the attention devoted to his member. And I knew that my willingness to satisfy his sexual urges was one of the few reasons he even had me sleep over at his place. But, I didn't let that stop me from finding pleasure in the handling of his meat.

I'd recently had an "introduction", of sorts, to seeing what someone could do with a man's dick with their mouth. While spending the night with my Uncle Jerry a couple weeks before, while I watched in secret, I was treated to a visual display of the intensity and unabashed pleasure that my uncle had obviously enjoyed having another man suck on his cock. From that moment on, I had a yearning that I needed to satisfy. With who was my only question.

I guess it was time to find out.

"I... heard that sucking on it feels even better than playing with it." I ventured.

In the darkness, I could feel a slight jerk of revulsion in Hemos's body.

"Put a dick in your mouth?" he croaked.

"Well, " I countered, my heart pounding with anxiety, "I think adults do it all the time."

"Well, I'm not gonna do it!" Hemos hissed. "That's homo stuff!"

"Yeah." I sighed disappointedly, while still playing with Hemos's dick. "I guess it is."

As I stroked his shaft in a steadier, milking rhythm, I could sense Hemos's breaths getting quicker. His manipulations of my dick began to falter as I could feel his body tense beside me. His hips rocked slightly in time with my pumping of his cock, and I cradled his balls tenderly in my other hand. When any attentions to my own dick has completely ebbed, I knew what was about to happen, so I picked up the pace just a bit more while lending a touch more pressure in my grip. Finally, Hemos's breath caught in his throat, and he turned his face fully into his pillow to stifle the moans that broke free as his cock pulsed and throbbed in a dry orgasm within my hands. I continued to massage him and didn't release him from my grasp until his member had gone fully soft.

"Man," sighed Hemos dreamily after finally catching his breath. "You are so good at that, CmdrTaco."

At least I had something to be proud of, I guess, as my friend gently withdrew himself from me and rolled onto his back.

Even though I was only eleven, the irony of Hemos's words and actions were not lost on me. My sucking on him would have been a "homo" thing, but beating him off was okay. Go figure. Within the few moments I had spent mulling over the irony of the thoughts, Hemos had drifted off to sleep. I slipped out from under the covers and down to the cool floor so I could masturbate without shaking the bed. As I toyed with my own dick, I imagined Hemos's cock in my mouth, wondering if the chance would ever really come. Finally, my own climax washed over me, and I got back into the bed.

I don't sleep real well to begin with, and even worse when I'm not in my own bed. And now, with the thoughts of a dick so close to me, as well as the vivid memories of secretly seeing man-to-man cocksucking pleasure floating through my prepubescent, sex-filled brain, I was not about to fall asleep anytime soon. Lying awake until around 11:30, I finally decided that I needed to do something to satisfy my hungers, or I'd never be able to let it rest. The trick was in finding the guts to follow through.

I knew that whenever Hemos fell asleep, he pretty much stayed asleep. So, since he was sleeping soundly, lying on his back, I took a deep breath and gingerly ducked my head under the covers and scooted down as much as I could to the foot of the bed. That put my head right at Hemos's hip level. I raised my head and upper body to help create a tent over his crotch. Sniffing around, I found the faint scent of young penis flesh. I inhaled deeply, both in the love of the scent, and in an attempt to slow my pounding heart. I opened my mouth wide over the area where I sensed Hemos's dick to be, and lowered my mouth squarely over his soft cock and balls until I could feel his sparse pubic hairs tickling my cheek. I finally had a dick in my mouth! I just wasn't sure what I'd do if Hemos woke to find his "homo" friend in this situation.

I remained like that for a long moment, partially in fear of trying anything more, and partly to savor the moment. I carefully let my tongue start to explore his tender penile flesh, enjoying the texture. Then came the excitement that welled within me as his cock began to respond to my attentions and harden in my warm and wet mouth! Butterflies seemed to explode in my stomach and drown out my heartbeat as I felt his dick get to its full size in my mouth. Concentrating in that dark environment, I found myself beginning to identify the shape of his member by taste. The shaft actually seemed to taste different than the head, and the thin skin of his scrotum seemed to harbor another distinct flavor.

I started to softly suck on Hemos's dick, becoming fascinated at how it just seemed to, well, 'fit' in my mouth... how the head lent itself to the back of my tongue, and how the shaft rested between my tongue and the roof of my mouth. My excitement was so great that my own recently satisfied dick was responding again, inviting me to play. I was sucking a cock, and I was in heaven!

However, within seconds, Hemos seemed to get restless. In fear, I quickly pulled my mouth away from Hemos's candy stick and held still. The covers rustled, and pulled back.

"Whatcha doin'?" mumbled Hemos.

"I... uh... was trying to find my shorts down here," I lied, starting to fumble near our feet. Well, partial lie, because it was a good idea to do so, anyway, and now was as good a time as any.

"Oh, yeah," said Hemos. "Get mine, too, willya?"

"S-sure" I stammered, relieved.

I located the two items of clothing and scooted back up towards the head of the bed. Thankfully, our underwear were pretty easy to distinguish since Hemos wore boxers, and I wore briefs. We both fumbled to put them on in the dark, and then settled back into the bed. I lay stiffly on my back, still harboring some fear that my friend discovered more than he let on, but Hemos simply rolled onto his side, facing away from me, and promptly went back to sleep.

And, here I was again, so close to my fantasies, yet still so far.

And very much awake.

After hearing the clock in the hallway chime midnight, I finally got up to go to the bathroom. Figuring it was late enough not to be an issue, and since even if Hemos's parents were home that they would be in their own bedroom downstairs, I didn't bother to slip on my pants for the short trip down the hall. I walked softly to the bedroom door, and then stepped out into the hallway, illuminated dimly by a bare-bulb night light. I walked past big brother Mark's door to the bathroom at the end of the hall and turned on the light as I shut the door.

Peeing into the toilet, I looked up at my reflection in the large mirror and smiled slyly to myself. I actually sucked on a dick, even if for only a moment! At that moment I was Rob Maldo, secret agent double-O-seven, who could sneak in and suck a dick, and sneak away without being caught!

I flushed the toilet and switched out the light as I headed back down the hall. Slipping past Mark's door once again, the door flew open, and a hand covered my mouth while a muscular arm snapped around my waist and drew me into the room. Squirming in the arms of Hemos's athletic older brother was a waste of effort, and he only squeezed harder until I settled down.

"You'll keep quiet if you know what's good for you,' growled Mark into my ear. "You gonna be quiet?"

I nodded. Mark let go of my mouth and reached over to close his bedroom door, the other hand and arm still holding me firmly with my feet off the ground. I heard something click, and recalled, and not without a certain amount of childish fear, that Mark had a lock on his door.

The room had a yellowish glow from the large lava lamp next to Mark's bed. He took me over to the bed and tossed me face down onto it, kneeling next to me. I thought briefly about trying to get up and run, but to where?

When I felt Mark's hands on me again, I was determined to fight him off, but I was no match for him as he flipped me onto my back and straddled me, sitting squarely on my upper chest, his knees pinning my shoulders and my arms locked between his legs. I gazed up at his lean, muscled torso, his stern blue eyes under a tussled mane of reddish-blonde hair. I could feel the soft fabric of his boxers against my chin.

"Can't get up, can ya?" he said, grinning down at me, all snide and victorious.

I struggled a bit, more out of obligation, but knew it was no use. Mark was just too big for me.

"Whatsamatter?" huffed Mark. "You too weak to fight? Or, maybe you just like laying there, sniffing dicks?"

I started squirming a bit harder, but Mark's legs only clamped tighter. At least he had scooted down a bit, and was no longer suffocating me with his weight on my chest.

"Yeah! Maybe you're a homo-boy who just likes sniffing dicks. Maybe you wanna sniff my big dick?"

I didn't care for where this was going, and I wasn't too comfortable with the tone of Mark's voice. But, I was also not being given much of a choice in the matter. Especially when Mark reached into the fly of his boxers and pulled out his cock.

"Here you are, homo-boy... a nice, fresh big-man dick!" grinned Mark fiendishly. "Ain't it a beaut?"

He held it out for me, then leaned forward and started to rub his cock on my face, tracing my cheeks and nose with the bulbous head. His testicles soon followed his dick through the opening, until they were dangling on my chin, the coarse pubes tickling my lips. Their faint musky scent began to fill my nostrils.

"CmdrTaco's just a little dick-faced homo-boy, ain't he?" sneered Mark, sliding his cock across my face. "I saw you in there, your head under the covers. What were you doing? Giving my little brother a blow job?"

I didn't answer. I was at once shocked at the thought of having been discovered, and confused by Mark's remark. I then guessed that he meant sucking a dick was called a 'blow job'. But... you're not blowing, you're sucking, and-

"You were, weren't you, you little homo!"

It was obvious what had happened; that Mark had looked in on us to find my head under the blankets. I thought I had sensed a miniscule change in the light, but assumed that to be part of my excitement. That must have been what woke Hemos up so suddenly.

"So, maybe you aren't just dick-faced, " he said, rubbing his cock on my face again. "Maybe you're a dick sucker!" He leaned forward, mashing his hairy ball sack into my nose, then pulling back to trace my features again with his member. But, even as Mark taunted me, treating his cock as a threatening weapon, there was something else happening.

He was getting a boner.

And as I closed my eyes, I could feel his cock thickening against my face. I could sense the heat of his hardening dick directly on my flesh. And, I found I was enjoying the sensations of this older cock against my face. There would soon be no way of hiding the fact that I was getting excited, too.

"So, dick-sucker-CmdrTaco... you're gonna suck my dick, now."

My eyes sprung open to see Mark's fully erect cock pointing at my face. While it wasn't huge (I had already seen 'huge' with my Uncle Jerry), it was still big enough to scare me.

And excite me to no end.

"Open wide, homo-boy."

Without another moment of hesitation, or taking my eyes off of Mark's sleek tool, I opened my mouth as wide as I could and watched as he leaned down and slid that beautiful cock into my waiting mouth. I then settled my tongue against the bottom half of his shaft while I could feel the upper half press against the roof of my mouth. Its texture was soft, yet hard; smooth, yet distinct.

"There," he sighed. "Now, you have a real dick to suck on. Now, get started, suck-boy!"

It was so much bigger than Hemos's young dick, I wasn't sure if I could get enough suction worked up to suck on it. It was then that I found out what sucking a cock is really all about: friction.

Mark held the base of his dick to guide himself and started to pump into my mouth, sliding his dick in and out of my salivating lips. He would slip in precariously between my teeth until he was near to choke me, then pull back out until the base of the bulbous head was just close to popping free from my lips, held in place by the suction of my mouth. Then he... we... would do it all over again... over and over... and gloriously over again.

"Oh, you are good, CmdrTaco," he moaned softly. "You suck cock real good."

I don't know about that; it seemed he was doing all the real work. But, I wanted it to be good. I wanted to have this dick in my mouth. And I wanted it again and again. I was definitely enjoying the oral sensations as his near-adult dick worked back and forth in my hungry mouth, and I wanted so much to please him so he would want my mouth again.

Mark placed his other hand on the top of my head to steady me as his thrusts became a little more erratic. His breath quickened, and I could sense that he was trying hard not to ram himself all the way down my throat and choke me. He was making little grunts with each thrust, and I could feel his dick turn to stone in my mouth when, in a mix of fear and excitement, I suddenly recalled what would happen next.

"Oh, baby... oh, fuck..."

Mark's movements got all quick and jerky. I was almost afraid to breathe.

"OHHHH!!!" he moaned, pulling out of my mouth and letting loose with a burst of white goo that seemed to splatter all over as he pumped his dick with his fist. My head still held firmly in his other hand, the warm liquid flew partly into my still open mouth, and all over my nose and eyebrows. I swallowed briefly, not sure whether to gag or hope for more, tasting fully the salty and musky liquid, then opened my mouth once more as Mark stuck his creaming cock back in and worked the thick fluid throughout my young mouth.

I sucked until Mark went soft and withdrew his spent dick. He smiled down at me, obviously proud of what he had done. He finally got off of me (good thing since I thought my arms were going to fall off) and stood there for a moment, an interesting picture with his hands on his hips, and his drained cock and balls hanging out of the fly of his plaid boxers. I just lay there with his juices clinging to my skin, wanting to do it all over again.

Mark bent down and picked up a t-shirt, and proceeded to wipe the remainder of his goo off my face. Finished with that, he tossed the shirt into a hamper and walked over to his bedroom door to unlock it as he tucked his manhood back into his underwear.

"You better get back into Hemos's bed before mom and dad find you here," he said softly.

I reluctantly got off Mark's bed and walked to the door. As I was about to exit, he reached out to stop me briefly.

"You liked that, didn't you, homo-boy?"

I nodded, not sure where he was going with this inquiry.

"Your first taste of cum?"

I shrugged, then nodded again.

"If you're good, maybe I'll let you suck my dick again some time, CmdrTaco. Now, get your ass out of here before I kick it."

I stepped out of the room and felt the door close harshly behind me. I could still taste traces of Mark's cum in my mouth, could still sense the friction of his cock on my tongue. I smiled in remembrance.

I was hooked.

- poopbot: information likes to be narrow

Poor OpenSource people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859244)

The subtitle and main question is: Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?"

The short answer: No

The long answer: Man, you guys sure are stupid. Didn't you learn anything from the whole genome thing.. the windows thing.. the hardware thing.. the cpu thing.. the web browser thing. Let's do a study.. something along the lines of how much bandwidth is wasted in opensource projects versus their closed source counterparts. The costs of bandwidth alone in all of the nonsensicle bickering and babbling should help make a decision as to wether or not it's worth it. I've never seen so many people talk about something they can't do in my whole life. It's like Seinfeld or something.

The EULA for genetic material (2)

gatesh8r (182908) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859260)

In order for the use of this product, you must agree to the following terms.

1. GRANT OF LICENCE. $PERSON1, along with the cooperation of $DIETY (hereafter known as the GRANTOR) grants you, $PERSON2 (hereafter known as the GRANTEE) a non-exclusive, non-transferable licence to the GRANTOR's genetic material. GRANTEE accepts that she cannot tranfer the EULA to anyone without GRANTOR's concent.

2. RESTRICTIONS. The GRANTOR 0wnz j00. GRANTOR can change the licence at any time and can withhold all genetic material at any time without the GRANTEE's concent. The GRANTOR has all right. The GRANTEE has none. Amen.


Do you agree to the licence terms? [I have no choice] [Screw you, I actually read the EULA!]

Exactly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859278)

It's so simple, wonder why people don't think of it more often. If you hoard and use IP, and everybody else does, then everyone gets only what they can personally create. If you share information, and everyone else does, then everybody gets everyone's methods and information for free! Plus, with independent scrutiny and examination, redundancy, etc.

Re:Exactly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859327)

Say there are N persons in the world, each with 1 Intellectual Unit of output (on average). Then the total intellectual resources of a person who hoards IP, even if they are significantly above average, are still < N. Whereas if everyone shares knowledge, then everyoe gains access to N IU's, more than anynoe could possibly earn on their own (by definition).

capitalism (0)

schematix (533634) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859461)

The subtitle and main question is: Can a band of biologists who share data freely out-innovate the corporate researchers who hoard it?" The true question is whether those biologists can make more money their corporate rivals. Innovation is useless unless there is a profit to be made!

Science literacy really is that bad, isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859518)

For the author of that disturbingly ignorant question:

Here's an easy metric, and consequently imperfect metric to sanity check your question...

Count the Nobel prizes in Physics, Chemistry, or Medicine awarded to people for work done at companies like Monsanto or Bristol-Meyer-Squibb vs. "open source" institutions like The Max Planck Institute or UCLA.

EZ metrics indeed. (2)

ahfoo (223186) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859684)

So the people who win Nobel Prizes are a primary source of most innovation? Is that right? It's not the millions of students filtering through the universities doing unpaid research under the guidance of people who may or may not have been rewarded Nobel Prizes that develop innovations, but rather the recipeints themselves posses a shamen like aura that produces a constant stream of this substance called "genius" that is then converted to innovation in these places called corporations.
Huh. Man, you must be one of these fucking geniuses.

Linux for Biotechnology - open source collection (1)

opensourceIT (539684) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859529)

Check out the Linux for Biotechnology cdrom at []

Human Genome Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3859536)

So who completed a reasonable map first, Venter or Collins?

(Hint: it was a tie)

Cart before horse? (2)

IntelliTubbie (29947) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859562)

It seems backwards to say that biology is copying the methodology of open-source. If anything, I thought that the open-source/free software movement was created to bring the openness of scientific research communities (in academia, at least) to computer programming.


Is it realy that new ? (1)

lukasz (27763) | more than 12 years ago | (#3859722)

Most of the non-commercial science (including biology) has been done according to this 'open-source' model since eons ego. It has always been the cycle: read publicly available papers on a given topic - do something new - publish results in a publicly available, peer reviewed journal.

Cell Signalling Alliance not quite "open-source" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3860111)

The "open-source" Cell Signalling Alliance may not be a great example of truly open-source biology. This alliance has been set up to share information between, and only between a select group of researchers. Information is not freely available to those outside the hand-picked circle of alliance members.
The article spins this alliance as a step forward for biology. Unfortunately, the alliance's motives are to bring success to those laboratories who earn the political favors of the founding members. This is politics and monopolies in the sciences, not an open-source revolution. sorry..

Open source bioinformatics tools (2, Informative)

airuck (300354) | more than 12 years ago | (#3860280)

Get open source bioinformatics tools from: [] [] []
and even [] for a talk on bioinformatics with PHP/Ming

Profit cycle in BioScience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3860581)

Other than Breast Cancer, most conditions which could be tackled by genetic medicine do not seem to support a population which could afford the development cost of the treatment. Take the bubble boy syndrome. There is now a gene based cure, and yes it has saved the 2-6 boys born with this condition each year from life in a sterile bubble.
But, did their insurance pay $5 million for the treatment-- of course not....
The same thing will happen if a cure to Alzheimer's comes about-- there would be no way to recoop the "development" costs of the treatment. The public could not afford it.
Then again, that's why I'm betting a significant part of this "secretive" research is in some form taxpayer funded. (Usually indirectly through university, government, and corporate connections).

So I think the Open Source Bio stuff will do all the "basic" research, and the companies will spend their time trying to apply it. They will patent and try to charge a ton for it, but if history has proved anything, there is always a limit to how much they can charge before public outcry will cause their patents to be ignored by governments. Even Canada breaks medical patents if they cause too much of a burden on the population. In Africa and South America, it's pretty much status-quo to ignore medical patents.

So the system seems fair-- heavily taxpayer funded, but the company that does make the breakthough will never become a MicroSoft.

It doesn't matter who "wins" (2, Interesting)

lparsons (29172) | more than 12 years ago | (#3860658)

This title of the article seems to suggest that this is a contest to see who "wins", the open source guys or the secretive corporate guys. I just don't think that really matters.

The parallels to open source programming run rather deep. There are many advantages to open source software (or open data science). However, there will always be room for people to work on propriatary projects. Micro$oft currently co-exists with open source developers. There is room for both. Sure, they don't always get along, but that's another story.

The way I see it, every scientist builds upon the research of others. That's just how science works. The open sharing of data only serves to speed up that process. Ultimately, every scientific discovery will be "borrowed" by some other scientist down the line. So what if a company takes some of that data and uses it's additional monetary resources to turn the data into a pill that can cure a disease. The point is, science and mankind, benefit in the long run.

There is another side to this as well. Corporate research tends to be very focused on solving a specific problem or answering a specific question. While this type of scince is very valuable and necessary, there is another type of science. The kind where researches study a phenomenon just find out what's going on and how things work. Often this type of "basic research" uncovers answers to problems that previously seemed unrelated. It appears that open data sharing would help to promote this kind of "basic research".

Open Source (2)

Lando (9348) | more than 12 years ago | (#3860752)

Well it might be Open Source, but it certainly doesn't seem to be accessable... Did a web search and was unable to find any website or other access to any information.

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