It’s been a bit more than seven years since I took a call from Larry Lessig about joining Creative Commons. It was my birthday in mid-August 2004, and I was sitting on a log near the beach at Brewster, a small town in Massachusetts. The signal was cutting in and out, but enough got through for Larry to ask me to come on board, and for me to say yes.
It was the best decision I ever made.
Since that call, I’ve flown somewhere around 1,200,000 miles, spent about 800 nights on the road, and visited more than 30 countries, giving more than 400 lectures and talks. I’ve spent days with scientists in disciplines ranging from biodiversity to geospatial to chemistry to biology to physics to anthropology to neuroscience and on. I’ve danced to dubstep in Zagreb, lost my passport in Bogota, and been drunk under the table in Helsinki by our amazing international affiliates.
I met my wife, Carolina Rossini, through Creative Commons (for this alone, I should buy the world a drink) and we recently had our first child, who may be the first baby to emerge from the movement. CC’s been incredible for me, a challenging job that grew me and opened me and taught me. I’m a better person because of this job.
I got to go to work, pretty much every day, loving what I did. And I got to work with the most amazing people, my fellow staff who picked me up in moments of incredible personal trial and kept me going, as well as creating the most demanding intellectual environment I’ve ever known.
Now it’s time for me to say yes to something else, and move on from my position as VP of Science at Creative Commons.
I’ve launched a project called Consent to Research, which is being supported by the Kauffman Foundation, Sage Bionetworks, Lybba, and a few other organizations. The idea behind CtR is simple: make it easy for people who want to share data about themselves for scientific, medical, and health research to do so. It’s not centered on intellectual property, though it does touch on it. It’s more about privacy, and in particular, about making it possible for people to get informed about what is possible with their data and how beautiful research can emerge if enough genomes, enough biosamples, and enough other kinds of data can be shared and connected.
CC is not abandoning the field in science. If anything, the next iteration will have an even greater impact at national and international policy levels. We spent seven years building expertise, building networks (both professional and social), and releasing products that drive science towards an open, networked state. Those seven years are the foundation for the next round of CC science, and don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that CC is out of the open science world. They will (strange to use the third person!) be proving that point with a series of workshops and papers in the coming months.
I’m not leaving CC entirely. It means too much to me, and I’ll maintain a role as Senior Advisor so I can be actively involved with the next generation of CC’s scientific program. I’ve accepted a seat on the Board of Directors at iCommons, and I plan to be a project lead of the new CC-US jurisdiction as it emerges. I am therefore an affiliate now, and am looking forward to criticizing HQ for a lack of transparency ;-)
Thank you to everyone who made this such a great experience. It’s been a joy.