[Edu-sig] thoughts after djangocon

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sun Sep 12 20:18:32 CEST 2010

The opening plenary was interesting.  We had some
university representation, including a guy working on
the electronic medical records problem.  I wish I'd
gotten his name.  Bruce or Brian.  He worked with
Steve Holden on the data visualization challenge,
one of the conference puzzles (rewards awarded).

Lots of chatter about NoSQL, which I've been blogging
about as a possible "scrap booky" solution to some
medical record services, i.e. the outermost storage
is non-schematic, even if there's schematic data
embedded (like on Facebook -- picture a long sheet
of butcher paper, unscrolling your whole life....).

The private sector is obviously far out ahead of
academia but, because of intellectual property
concerns, tends to burrow, play its cards close
to the vest.  There's something oxymoronic about
an open source conference where people a keeping
so many secrets, but that's life in the corporate
fast lane.

Governments, on the other hand, have more of an
incentive to justify their existence by making whatever
software development they pay for stay out there
and in the open (if immunized against "national
security" memes), a catalyst for further innovation
among hose without the budgets to privately fund
innovation.  SE Linux is one (older) example.  This
makes governments more naturally partners of
academia, although there's sometimes an awkward
triangle here, with the private sector trying to get
universities to generate more patents and trade
secrets, even with public funding (especially with
public funding).

Congressman Wu (1st district, OR), gave one of
the keynotes.  He noted the importance of STEM
subjects in today's education (science, technology,
engineering and math).  After leaving the podium,
he made a bee line to Steve (of Holden Web,
producer of this conference) to ask what happened
to all the women.  Where do they leak out of the
STEM pipeline he wanted to know, realizing this
might be a topic for another day.


GOSCON is coming up in October and we'll likely
continue discussing these issues.  Oregon is hoping
to channel funding into OSU's ODL around this electronic
medical records challenge, but I don't know that the
caliber of the journalism is sufficient to focus public
debate.  Without public discussion, the right people
fail to learn of one another.  Willamette Week did a
cover story on precisely this, which was a good sign,
but failed to get at all technical, which is not a good
sign.   Here's my journal entry on the WW article:



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