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Author Topic: Article: Donation-based Funding of Basic Research  (Read 2482 times)

mouser

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Article: Donation-based Funding of Basic Research
« on: April 05, 2010, 09:46:46 AM »
Article in the New York Times on several organizations that are trying to facilitate raising donations to fund people wanting to do basic research but without the financial resources.

Quote
Eureka Fund, based in San Francisco, is one of a handful of new nonprofit organizations created to give the general public an opportunity to pay for scientific research that is not fully supported by government or private sources. They are part of a fledgling movement to take the idea of crowd-sourcing and crowd-financing, which has worked in arenas like small business and education, to scientific research.

And while the notion of citizens’ directly donating to public research that could ultimately produce profits may raise questions, several ventures are entering the field. Two other Web sites — Sciflies.org, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., and FundScience.org, in Pittsburgh — plan to roll out their donation platforms to finance independent research by this summer.



from Alex3f personal communication

40hz

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Re: Article: Donation-based Funding of Basic Research
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2010, 04:40:34 PM »
I think this is is going to end up being the Achilles Heel:

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...the notion of citizens’ directly donating to public research that could ultimately produce profits may raise questions, ...

There's a guy floating around where I live who's been trying for a couple of years to get people to "donate" to this idea he has. He wants to create a school for extremely bright and talented high school students who want to pursue a career in 'pure' science.

Most people are pretty interested until he gets into the details of how he envisions it being set up. Basically, he wants to create an exclusive 'for profit' school with him in a position of absolute control over the whole enterprise. (Hi boys & Girls! Can you say: "He's got big kahunas?" Sure y'can! )

And he can't understand why he hasn't gotten many takers.  :-\


JavaJones

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Re: Article: Donation-based Funding of Basic Research
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2010, 09:47:54 PM »
Cool idea. 40hz's concerns are definitely legitimate. Still as a potential contributor I'd be willing to forego any share of profits if some cool stuff comes out of it.

- Oshyan

40hz

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Re: Article: Donation-based Funding of Basic Research
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 02:38:22 PM »
Cool idea. 40hz's concerns are definitely legitimate. Still as a potential contributor I'd be willing to forego any share of profits if some cool stuff comes out of it.

- Oshyan

I think many of us would. Few people expect something back for their donations so long as nobody else is getting rich off them either. But the problem is how to keep one of these new projects from just turning into a (donation funded) commercial enterprise.

There's an inherent contradiction someplace in there that I just can't seem to get around.

If you take a look at some of the big FOSS projects that have recently gone under a corporate mantle (MySQL for example) you can see the potential for problems.

For while very few begrudged the fact that MySQL's central project team finally got some 'payback' for years of hard work, it was still a pretty raw deal for the many who materially contributed to the project over the years, but were not brought in as part of the clique.

And it was also a major blow to the 'social contract' necessary for FOSS to work when Sun almost immediately started to look for ways to get around the GPL (despite assurances to the contrary) by internally forking MySQL into a community and a commercial set of releases with functional differences in the core code.

To be sure, many OSS products have community and commercial editions. But in most cases, the commercial version came first, rather than the other way around as it did with "Sun's" MySQL.

The big hoopla that went down following Sun's announcement caused them to relent on some of their plans. But nobody is convinced it's anywhere near over. The departure of MySQL founder Martin Mikos from Sun in early 2009 would appear to indicate as much. And the steady stream of departures (Gosling, Phipps, Nutter, Enerbo, Siegler, Wierzbicki, et al) all of whom are major developers and project leaders from the OSS world tends to further reinforce the notion that all is not well in paradise.

So for me the question is how something like Eureka Fund's methodology can avoid creating a similar debacle down the road.



« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 02:55:50 PM by 40hz »