Spent the morning at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting. It is a massive affair, right across the street from another big one (American Society of Cell Biology, which I’ve also spoken at in years past…). The area around Moscone is filled with dazed science geeks wearing nametags; I spent a few minutes dreaming of a jets-v-sharks thing between a bunch of tissue culture technicians and the international polar year team.
I spoke on the usual stuff: legal, normative, and social issues around data sharing. It was a little odd this time though – I was preceded and followed by people who use the public domain as a first recourse from a legal perspective. Didn’t have the usual sense of “must be evangelically powerful to convert people” to it, which was very nice.
Getting outside the life sciences is always a breath of fresh air. The constant anticipation of uncountable billions of dollars if you cure cancer combines with the sclerotic way the NIH allocates its dollars to create an environment where sharing is a tough sell. Getting into a room full of earth scientists and space scientists who basically think that sharing data is just smart – that “one hundred eyes see more than two” as Chuck Holmes of NASA put it – that’s the stuff that refreshes a tired soul.