OpenQuake attended the OKCon2011 Conference organized by the Open Knowledge Foundation in Berlin, Germany! We met with people working on similar projects and facing similar open data challenges and chatted with the OKCon community members about what we at OpenQuake are currently doing. It was a great opportunity to share expertise and knowledge on open data projects. We are pleased to have recently joined the OKF Open Science Working Group and are looking forward to collaborating with the OKF Open Science community.
The following are some of the more note worthy presentations from OKCon2011.
The Open Science Panel:
This panel discussion focused on the use of volunteer computing. Volunteer computing using BOINC (http://boinc.berkeley.edu/) is an arrangement in which people (volunteers or members of a organized group) provide computing resources to projects, which use the resources to do distributed computing and/or storage. Because of the huge number (> 1 billion) of PCs in the world, volunteer computing supplies more computing power to science than does any other type of computing. This computing power enables scientific research that could not be done otherwise.
- Volunteers are typically members of the general public who own Internet-connected PCs. Organizations such as schools and businesses may also volunteer the use of their computers.
- Projects are typically academic (university-based) and do scientific research.
Several aspects of the project/volunteer relationship are worth noting:
- Volunteers are effectively anonymous; although they may be required to register and supply email address or other information, they are not linked to a real-world identity.
- Because of their anonymity, volunteers are not accountable to projects. If a volunteer misbehaves in some way (for example, by intentionally returning incorrect computational results) the project cannot prosecute or discipline the volunteer.
- Volunteers must trust projects in several ways:
* The volunteer trusts the project to provide applications that don’t damage their computer or invade their privacy.
* The volunteer trusts that the project is truthful about what work is being done by its applications, and how the resulting intellectual property will be used.
The volunteer trusts the project to follow proper security practices, so that hackers cannot use the project as a vehicle for malicious activities. This technology could be interesting to the OpenGEM/OpenQuake project because we are following an open source philosophy which currently includes open source code, open data, but by using a volunteer computing system like BOINC we could provide users with an open source computing solution in addition to some of the other solutions computing solution we are currently investigating such as cloud computing.
Open Data Licensing:
OpenGEM is facing may open data licensing issues, and this presentation was pivotal in keep up to data on current developments on copyright and trademark issues, open content, free and open source software (FOSS), and basically anything where digital technology and the law meet. The presenter Jordan Hatcher In 2007 he helped found Open Data Commons, a project providing public licensing tools for open data. Jordan is on the board of directors of the Open Knowledge Foundation. As to other formal qualifications, Jordan is a licensed attorney (Texas) and is active in various organizations related to technology and intellectual property.
Data All the Way Down:
Making data open does not necessarily make it usable. The vast majority of useful data is complex and needs context to be understood, such as explanatory text, navigational paths and interactive visualizations. Conversely, focusing purely on the end user’s experience of the data prevents reusers from exploring, analyzing and presenting the underlying data in novel ways. How can we build rich user interfaces while supporting data reusers? This talk focused on the experience of building legislation.gov.uk and providing government organograms to illustrate the power of layering data access underneath rich user interfaces.
OpenQuake and OpenGEM have become active in the Open Science group to become more in touch with issues relating to open knowledge/open data, we were very keen to learn more about volunteer computing, crowdsourcing platform, data visualization tools, and other up and coming technologies, as well as new and arising data licensing issues.