Cognitive dissonance: makers vs ??

Over the last few weeks, I've been on a bit of a Cory Doctorow kick. I started by reading Homeland, a sequel to the excellent Little Brother; these two very important books about anti-terror-enabled government suppression of liberty and free speech are very well written and extremely timely. I then moved on to For the Win, a somewhat more mediocre book about unionizing and gold farming; and I just finished Makers, a truly visionary if somewhat halting story about people who Make Stuff, and their battles with more traditional corporations.

(All of these books are freely available for e-book download, and are also available off of Amazon. I would start with Little Brother as it is very approachable, well written, and all too realistic.)

Whence the title of this post?

I was reading Makers while I was at the workshop on Cyberinfrastructure for Marine 'Omics, and it took me a few days to realize that my mental landscape had been seriously warped by Makers (in a good way)! I think much of my grumpiness about our current models of software development and funding came from the juxtaposition of the very bottom-up, creativity driven, many-resources-are -essentially-free world of Makers -- which works -- and the traditional academic approach of Big Software Projects -- for which there is strong evidence that it does not work that well. Whoa, major cognitive dissonance: here I am, an increasingly card-carrying member of the Big Projects club, reading a very plausible book about how I am a dinosaur.

That recognition is one strong motivation for the post Crowdsourced -omic analysis. Even if the first 10 versions of the pipeline kinda suck, incremental improvements via a true, forkable open source development model virtually guarantee that at some point it will stop sucking. If, as I am hoping to do with khmer, we can bring the compute costs closer to zero, we will have eliminated the only major barrier other than creativity and good science. Worth a shot, eh?

Anyway, just thought I'd share.


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