Science funding in Canada

During the latest episode of CBC’s excellent national science program Quirks and Quarks (podcast) there was mention of www.sciencefunding.ca. There are some interesting documents available on that site which discuss how science is funded in Canada. The letter in this document (2005) gives some background.

Also, this week’s Quirks and Quarks is the 30th anniversary show. This would be a great show to listen to if you are new to Quirks and Quarks.

The copyright loby (more of the same)

Just before the last federal election the world found out how cozy some federal politicians involved in copyright reform were with special interest groups. Despite the change of government, it appears little has changed.

Oda and the Copyright Pledge

CRIA’s Lobby Effort: The Untold Story

Michael Geist deserves a lot of credit for not letting this drop.

Transcripts and audio versions of Geist’s Hart House 2006 lecture entitled Our own creative land: Cultural Monopoly and the Trouble with Copyright are available if you are interested in Canadian copyright reform.

RedHat summit videos

Red Hat has posted videos of the keynotes from the Red Hat summit in Nashville. So far, I have only watched two of the three videos. Both were excellent.

Eben Moglen: Discusses the philosophical and political ideas behind free software. He argues that free software is about allowing individual creativity. If you don’t ‘get’ free software you need to watch this speech.

Cory Doctorow: Provides a bit of history on copyright change and how the incumbent industries always try to stop progress. Lots of good DRM discussion as well.

There is no future in which bits will be harder to copy than they are today … Any business model that based on the idea that bits will be harder to copy is doomed. [Cory Doctorow (2006 RedHat summit in Nashville)]

I found both of these speeches to be inspiring. Free software is the start of a wider revolution. As Moglen says in his keynote (paraphrasing), it is an incredible privilege to live through a revolution.

A Broadband Utopia

A Broadband Utopia from IEEE Spectrum describes how a few municipalities in Utah joined together to build the high speed Internet infrastructure that for-profit telecommunication companies were not willing to. This article is definitely worth the somewhat long read. Several good points are made. The physical network duplication between the phone and cable companies is very expensive. The analogy given in the article is that this duplication is similar to every airline building its own airport instead of sharing the costs. I also find the argument that public Internet infrastructure opens up the market to new entrants very compelling. Competition is a good thing. Customers using the public network described in this article have their choice of companies offering TV, Internet, phone and other network services.

Fishburn says that the Utopia design makes it easy for every high school to have, in effect, its own TV station. “And not just the school,” he says. “Why not every high school student?”

Dispatches

CBC has recently made some of its excellent radio programming available as podcasts. You can see the list of podcasts here.

Of particular note is Dispatches. This program offers short radio documentaries from reporters all over the world. The perspectives offered in these documentaries form a sharp contrast with the simplistic reporting that usually constitutes news.

The Vatican’s astronomer

Quirks and Quarks is the CBC‘s weekly science and technology radio show. It is also available as a Podcast.

This past week’s episode contains an interview with the Vatican’s astronomer. He has a very interesting take on the intersection of science and religion. Definitely worth listening to.

Many people think that science and religion don’t mix. But Brother Guy Consolmagno couldn’t disagree more. He’s a Jesuit, and also an accomplished astronomer – in fact, he works for the Vatican Observatory. And for Brother Guy, science and religion aren’t in conflict in the least. He sees them as two compatible and complementary ways to seek the truth about the universe. This Easter weekend, Brother Guy tells us how he views the cosmos – both literally and spiritually.

Business as Morality

Doc Searls: Business as Morality reprints an email written by Doc Searls discussing business morality. As with most of Doc’s writing it is worth reading. However, I would like to draw a little attention to one of the comments posted in response. It starts with the text “Wake the dragon”. This comment discusses the effects of the enormous cost reductions that the Internet has brought to content creation and distribution. The main idea is that the cost of content creation and distribution has been reduced to the point where content is being created without a profit motivation. This leads to a situation where for-profit companies must compete with entities who do not need to make money.

The main difference in the scenario above [media consolidation] and the current one that exist in the internet business sector is that the old scenario of market domination, and consolidation has been super imposed as a belief model in an space that it will not fit.

They [newspapers regarding on-line classified ads] also viewed the internet in an old world economic framework that postulates that business are only created and survive when revenue can be generated that makes the endeavor profitable.