Earlier today, I received a request to use one of the photographs I've posted on Flickr. I get a lot of these requests, and I always find them a bit annoying; I release all of my photographs (and writing, including this blog) under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
I would be delighted if people emailed to say, "Hey, thanks for letting me use your photo! Here's a link to what the thing I'm using it for." Even that isn't strictly necessary, since I always notice the inbound referrals from the attribution links. The whole point is that you don't need to ask permission because you already have it, provided you give proper attribution. So, as usual, I tried to explain this concept, and got an interesting answer.
Hi Russell,Wait, he wants me to waive the CC-BY license just so they can avoid actually linking to the original photo in the credit? That doesn't make a bit of sense. Yes, I want credit for my work, but that's not why I licence under CC-BY. Even if something is in the public domain, nobody has the right to plagiarize from it, and an author can and should expect their public domain works to be properly credited. You can copy it, and you can cut it into bits, rearrange the bits, paint the whole mess orange and trade for a silly hat. However, you cannot claim you created the original, because, well, you didn't. That would be fraud.
Thanks for your email. That's neat to hear that you have a connection to the Museum.
Yes, I did notice that your photo was offered under a Creative Commons license. In the case of this particular video, however, we are crediting contributors by name only (ie "Credit: Russell Neches". That is one of the reasons why I contacted you directly, to see if you would be willing to waive the standard CC attribution requirements.
If it is ok to only credit using your name, please let me know. Your credit will appear on the image itself. We are also looking to label each photo with the location where the image was taken. Based on the tag, I assume the Opossum image is from Pasadena. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Senior Media Producer, Nature Lab
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
The reason I use CC-BY instead of Public Domain is because it requires anyone using my work to provide useful attribution information. This is basically the same standard of attribution used in science. Scientists have to cite the work of others in such a way that the reader can actually identify and obtain the cited material for themselves. It's about access, not just credit.
So, I try to explain...
Ah, I see. Well, I suppose I should explain myself then.I was hopeful that this would click. There tons of easy things they could do to house the links. They could make a page on their website somewhere that said "attributions page for exhibit X" with a list of photos and attribution links. It would just take a few minutes, and it would be useful.
The reason I release my photos under CC-BY rather than Public Domain is because I believe it is important that the practice of traceable attribution be extended to new circumstances. It is important because it is often very important that people be able to ascertain where a particular piece of media came from. For example, they may wish to find related materials, or they may wish to independently verify its authenticity. This is why standard citation formats in research papers are so important. Giving credit is necessary, but not sufficient. The reader must able to actually access the source material, or they aren't really in a position to exercise judgment.
Now, I understand that this can be awkward when you're outside the traditional media formats where there is an acknowledged code of conduct for citations. There isn't yet a "standard" way to include citations in a slideshow, or in a dance performance, or in an opera, or in a sculpture. It's easy to imagine how doing it badly could mar the work.
Nevertheless, I think it needs to be attempted. The Natural History Museum is the sort of institution that is most likely to actually get it right and to set trends that others will follow. Everything in the museum has to meet pedagogical, scientific and aesthetic goals. It's one of the things that makes science museums so awesome.
I think developing some best practices for incorporating traceable citations into a mixed media installation is perfectly in keeping with that. After all, you're not using these images to sell toothpaste. You're using them to teach the public about science and nature. One of the most important practices in science is making sure the audience has direct access to the sources. Science regards the audience as peers, not as consumers.
Now, I'm not designing the exhibit, so I'm not going to insist on any particular design solution for providing links. I'm sure you can think of something that will work wonderfully, and won't be much trouble.
I can also imagine how an exuberant use of citations could make the exhibit like what you're describing extremely awesome. For example, a smartly-designed footer on each image with a scientific name, common name, time, location and a QR code link. Patrons could say, "Ooo! What's that?" and snap a photo with their phones, and be taken to a page with lots and lots of details about the organism and the source image. That's not necessarily what you should do, but perhaps you see what I mean about why citations are important? They make media more awesome!
As for the furry fellow in the picture, I found these guys in Eaton Canyon after their mother had been killed by a coyote. The ranger gave the babies to me, I suppose, because she didn't want them to be eaten by hawks in front of a school group on the hiking trail. They stayed at my mom's house in Pasadena for a few weeks until they were big enough to eat and do opossum-y things, and then I released them back into Eaton Canyon. The photo was taken in her backyard.
But alas, no.
Thanks for your email Russell. I very much appreciate your thoughts.Think about this here. He says, "I'm not going to be able to accommodate your request." Remember who's requesting what here. He really means, "I'm not going to be able to comply with the terms of your license."
Unfortunately, in this case, I'm not going to be able to accommodate your request.
I'm sorry that I won't be able to include your image in the slideshow after all. My apologies for taking up your time.
So, I'm pretty disappointed. I don't care if they use my photo or not. I get thousands of views already. My photos get used for lots of things, including a couple of elementary school science textbooks in developing countries. The publishers didn't have any problem putting a link next to my name.
No, I'm disappointed that the Los Angeles Natural History Museum doesn't seem to understand why citations are important.
Perversely, the Department of Justice and the Secret Service thought otherwise. The US Attorney's Office was about to go to trial with charges that would have resulted in thirty years of imprisonment were Aaron convicted, but I can't imagine that Aaron hanged himself because he was afraid.
Aaron was a patriot and a humanitarian. He was dedicated to the work of delivering a dose of integrity to the institutions of democracy, even as those very institutions crushed him for... for what, exactly? Sport and amusement, it seems. The People's case against Aaron Swartz, as represented by US attorney Carmen Ortiz, only makes sense if the People are sadistic bullies. It's hard not to wonder if Carmen Ortiz was planning to run for elected office, and if so, it's impossible to see Ortiz' case against Aaron as anything other than a cold-blooded gambit for future campaign donations from the media and publishing industries. Aaron's destruction was to be a signal that Carmen Ortiz is tough on piracy. Grist for the mill of our perfectly-legal political corruption.
That's not paranoia. That's politics in America. Aaron was deeply committed to healing the necrotic tissues of America's democracy. Over the last two years, reading about the case against him absolutely boiled my blood, but it must have broken Aaron's heart. Perhaps he despaired that America can be saved from the rot, or could no longer withstand the pain and humiliation of being so ill-treated by the republic he cared so much about.
As my tribute to Aaron, I've downloaded all of my own papers and posted them here. Since joining Jonathan Eisen's lab, I've been publishing in Open Access journals, and so the two most recent papers are perfectly legal for me to post here. The first three were written before I worked for an advisor who understood what is really at stake in scientific publishing, and so they are not open access. Here they are anyway. For Aaron.
- Functional biogeography of ocean microbes revealed through Non-Negative matrix factorization.
Xingpeng Jiang, Morgan G. I. Langille, Russell Y. Neches, Marie Elliot, Simon A. Levin, Jonathan A. Eisen, Joshua S. Weitz, and Jonathan Dushoff. PLoS ONE, 7(9):e43866+, September 2012.
- A workflow for genome-wide mapping of archaeal transcription factors with ChIP-seq.
Elizabeth G. Wilbanks, David J. Larsen, Russell Y. Neches, Andrew I. Yao, Chia-Ying Wu, Rachel A. S. Kjolby, and Marc T. Facciotti. Nucleic Acids Research, February 2012.
- The convergence of analytic high- equilibrium in a finite aspect ratio tokamak.
R. Y. Neches, S. C. Cowley, P. A. Gourdain, and J. N. Leboeuf. Physics of Plasmas, 15(12):122504+, 2008.
- Stability of highly shifted equilibria in a large aspect ratio low-field tokamak.
P. A. Gourdain, J. N. Leboeuf, and R. Y. Neches. Physics of Plasmas, 14(11):112513+, 2007.
- Stability of highly shifted equilibria in a Large-Aspect-ratio tokamak.
P. A. Gourdain, S. C. Cowley, J. N. Leboeuf, and R. Y. Neches. Physical Review Letters, 97(5), August 2006.
One might suppose that publishers benefit from the system of closed-access journals, but this cynical view exaggerates the importance of the relatively paltry sums of cash involved and disparages the value of scientific and technological progress. Publisher's cannot cure their cancers by wallowing in hoarded journal papers, but posting the hoard on the internet stands a fighting chance.
So, I'm exceedingly glad that Nature Publishing Group has elected to step into the ring in the corner of this fighting chance by launching Scientific Reports. Many have noted that in many important respects, Scientific Reports is a clone of PLoS ONE.
It has not escaped our notice that as recently as 2008, Nature's Declan Butler was sneering at PLoS for the practice of "bulk, cheap publishing of lower quality papers." I'm sure the powers that be at Nature were expecting quite a few wry smiles at news of the launch.
Nevertheless, it's one thing to do the right thing when you're filled with righteous light. It's another thing altogether when it makes you look a bit silly. I'm as guilty as anyone for poking fun at Nature; as soon as I heard the news back in January, I gleefully registered PLoSTWO.org, and have spent the last couple of months plotting elaborate satire.
Now that they've launched, I must admit that the inaugural papers look pretty interesting. You'd better get your jokes in while they're still funny. This is not a case of Nature verses PLoS. In this fight, it's Nature and PLoS in one corner of the ring, and ignorance on the other. It is good news for everyone that Nature has learned from its comrade-in-arms how to throw a better uppercut.
Update July 1, 2001 : While they evidently appreciated the humor, PLoS regretfully asked me to take down PLoSTWO.org. Instead of just letting it go dark, I'm going to (voluntarily!) transfer it over to them once they think of something to do with it. For now, it'll point at the PLoS ONE About page.
So, the question of the evening is, does the UC Davis registrar know this?
This is a completely automated process. If you do this during the daytime, it just goes ahead and populates a table in whatever chthonic legacy database system that is swaddled in this blob of early 1990's vintage web programming. It's not like having the office open at the time actually helps.
Attention Amazon.com shoppers! It's 4:45 Central Time, and Amazon.com will be closing for the day in 15 minutes! Please complete your order before the site is disconnected for the evening. We will open again tomorrow at 8:30 A.M. Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com!
On the upside, at least it doesn't complain that my browser isn't supported. Yay.
Well, they are pretty tasty. Oh, and those very mediocre pictures? I took those myself, and then consumed the contents of the pouch. Also, my friend Srijak says there is no such thing as "Bombay Potatoes," but he eats them too.
Also, the tethering app is awesome. It turns your G1 into a WiFi base station and routes traffic from WiFi to 3G. Since I'm still waiting for broadband at my new apartment, it's a lifesaver.
I suppose tethering (and rooting the phone) technically violates T-Mobile's TOS, but I'm convinced that T-Mobile will allow both sooner or later. It's just too awsome, and it would help them sell more contracts.
It's kind of difficult to abuse tethering anyway; it sucks down the battery very quickly, and the latency is significant. It's the sort of thing you'd only use in a pinch. Those happen to be the situations where a little benevolence or selfishness from a big company can shape a customer's opinion forever. T-Mobile seems to be more sensitive to that kind of thing than the other networks. I know they've got their reasons for banning tethering apps, but I think they could be convinced to change their minds. (You can download various petitions from the Android Marketplace.)
Openness is where Google and T-Mobile could really go after the unwholesome, anticompetitive and un-American AT&T/iPhone alliance. The open nature of Android is a step in the right direction, but T-Mobile needs to get its legal department on the Open Access bandwagon if it wants to press the advantage.
After all, if some random people on the internet can roll better firmware for the G1 than their in-house developers, isn't it a strategic business advantage to let them?
184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52
That is all.
Usually, this kind of mess happens in residential areas, but I've seen it lab buildings also. I would be more than happy to route a few of my neighbor's packets on my network in exchange for less spectrum congestion. What is needed here is a protocol that would allow owners of clashing access points to decide who they are friends with.
Of course, this would mean that anyone who owned an access point would have to be able to assert common carrier status, which could have some interesting side effects.
She was probably the clearest, most readable and best informed voice on the mortgage crisis, period. She was also pretty much the only person who had anything positive or funny to say about it. Or, at least she set mood for the general commentary at "dry wit," when it easily could have been "catatonic depression."
From her platform as a co-blogger on Calculated Risk, she wowed people from Nobel laureates to analysts at the Federal Reserve. Pretty much everything I know about the details of the mortgage crisis I either know because she explained it to me, or because she explained it to someone else I read (e.g., certain Nobel laureate economists).
She had hoped to return to mortgage banking after the crisis and after recovering from cancer, but she made such a mark with her writing over the last two years that most people doubt that would have been possible.
One thing that makes big media so stupid is that they always turn to the same stable of pundits for commentary on complex issues. Unfortunately, most of these guys are not very bright and not very informed. But there is a solution. For every issue, even issues as murky and choked with dull tedium as the mortgage banking industry, there are people like Tanta. She was an expert straight from the trenches, but with a view broader than anyone could see from the ivory towers of academia or the skyscraper corner offices of industry. She was exactly the sort of person that major media outlets should recruit for beat reporting. The murkier the issue, the brighter such people can shine.
Alas, this particular glimmer in the gloom has gone out.
SonicWALL brilliantly flags this as 'Pornography.'
Seriously. This is a huge waste of everyone's time and money just to make sure nobody sees any boobies.
One thing I liked about dial-up service was the profusion of choices. There were dozens, and in some places, hundreds of ISPs. The ISPs offered lots of features and competitive prices. Now, the "choice" usually boils down to :
- Your friendly local cable monopoly, or
- Your friendly local telephone monopoly
China's Internet policy is already responsible for the political incarceration of large numbers of Chinese citizens, most of whom are probably staunch patriots (perhaps with unpopular opinions, though). Expanding state control over the Internet will only accelerate this. To some extent, human nature is irreducibly subversive. It is a necessary part of healthy human psychology to be somewhat resentful of authority. Resentment of authority is a necessary aspect of self-preservation. Increasing state surveillance will of course turn up more subversive thinking. Perfect surveillance would reveal that all of us are subversives, and the remaining few who are not suffer from serious cognitive disabilities. So, if Hu Jintao wants to lock down the Internet, he's going to have to lock up an awful lot of people.
On the other hand, as a patriot of my own country, Hu Jintao's calls to "purify" the Internet bring a smile to my face. If China is successful in its efforts, which is no certain thing, they will destroy their own patch of the Internet. Sure, they will still have a high-tech national computer network, but it won't be the Internet with a capital "I." It will be something else -- something much, much less valuable. No interesting services will survive on this "purified" Internet. The content will be just as interesting and as valuable as Party-controlled television. Meanwhile, Americans can continue building new and interesting things.
America has ceded its dominance in industry after industry to China. Hu Jintao's "purified" Internet is a guarantee that America will keep its dominance of Internet technologies. Unless, of course, our indigenous Internet purifiers succeed.