Matt Butcher reports on the North American Computers and Philosophy (NA-CAP) conference that had FOSS and Open Access as its two main topics.
For example, Samir Chopra and Scott Dexter, one a philosopher, the other a computer scientist, presented a paper on the so-called “Freedom-Zero Problem” with the Free Software Definition: How can one claim that it is morally responsible to mandate the unrestricted access to and use of code even in cases where this will certainly lead to harm? For example, why doesn’t the GPL forbid Free Software from being used in nuclear weaponry, or for torturing other humans? This ethically charged issue reappeared in numerous conversations throughout the conference.
Chopra & Dexter have a blog and they have just published the book Decoding Liberation: The Promise of Free and Open Source Software. Read the introduction. This is how Steven Weber thinks about the book:
In Decoding Liberation, Samir Chopra and Scott Dexter recapture and extend a part of the conversation that will ultimately be much more important than business models, patent and copyright law, or total cost of ownership for a piece of software. What does the open source model offer to political, artistic, and scientific freedom, and thus to the human enterprise of creativity beyond the guts of a computing machine? Their book is an eloquent, thoughtful, adventurous, and exciting dive into what really matters about changing the rules of code.
I hope to have time to read the book one day.
Some picks from the program:
- The Freedom Zero Problem: Free Software and the Ethical Use of Software
Samir Chopra & Scott Dexter
- Acting for the Best and Acting Legitimately: Challenges Facing the Stronger Claims of the Free Software Movement
- The Free, Open Source Option as Ethic
- Open Source Philosophy and “Democratic Rationalization” in Africa
Evaristus O Ekwueme
- The Missing Link: Computer Ethics and Formal Methods
Darren Abramson & Lee Pike
- Panel: A Skeptical Look at Wikipedia
Panelists: Tony Doyle, James Caufield, Don Fallis & Marc Meola
- Web 3.0 – Tools for Co-operation? Social Philosophical Remarks on the Desirable Possible Future Development of the Internet
There’s new peer-reviewed open access journal called Copyright, edited by Lawrence Lessig and Michael Geist. They publish articles on copyright and its effects in the Internet age. They promise rapid review (2 weeks) and quick publication and welcome also opinion pieces. While the journal accepts papers produced in traditional fashion, there’s also a chance for collaborative work. Papers can be co-written through the wiki in a true collaborative fashion. Very interesting approach!
The list of accepted topics is broad:
Copyright seeks articles on all topics related to copyright, including:
- Digital Rights Management
- Quantitative studies of the effects of legislation
- Scholarly communication and Open Access
- Peer-to-peer networks
- International copyright
- Collaborative authorship
- Blogs and other new media
- Collaborative filtering
- Copyright in developing nations
- Social implications of copyright
They write: “Copyright is structured to be a new type of journal, not just a place to publish ideas but a locus to generate them–vital in an area of academic interest largely composed of subdisciplines of other fields.” This a great attempt to create a lively research community and discussion forum.
Any research that has been funded by public money, should be public in terms of access and copyright. I don’t think there’s a way to deny this. The Wellcome Trust, which funds research “to improve human and animal health”, now requires that all publications of the research they fund must be freely available after 6 months. I’m waiting for Finnish public funders to follow. In my opinion this should also cover software and data.
Link: Open Access definitions