Friday, August 13, 2010

The open source model comes to medical research

An intriguing article in today's New York Times about a new way of organizing medical research--get all the raw material out there, so lots of eyes can see it:

The key to the Alzheimer’s project was an agreement as ambitious as its goal: not just to raise money, not just to do research on a vast scale, but also to share all the data, making every single finding public immediately, available to anyone with a computer anywhere in the world.

No one would own the data. No one could submit patent applications, though private companies would ultimately profit from any drugs or imaging tests developed as a result of the effort.

Sound familiar? I like the distinction drawn between open information and "ultimate profit". It reminds be of Richard Stallman's definition of Free Software: "Think of free as in Free Speech, not as in Free Beer."

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