You may or may not know that I’m the head of Systems Institute, non-profit research organization founded in 2009 in Poland. The Institute is located in Poland, but is operating internationally. There’s not much you can learn about this initiative, as we haven’t put up a real website yet (although there’s a placeholder). There was a reason to that lack of online presence – instead of wasting time on hyping our vision, we decided to start working, and brag about results once we have it.
Today FigShare created by Mark Hahnel went beta and as of today, Systems Institute is officially supporting FigShare’s operations. In other words, there’s a real effort to keep FigShare alive for indefinite period of time. Mark is making sure your figures and data are searchable, citable or whatever else is going to be implemented in a near future. We are making sure the service is operating and your figures are backed-up.
There’re few lessons to learn from Mark’s great work on FigShare and other services he has started within last half a year (especially on doing vs talking ratio). But I will share another one, related to our cooperation. Being a head of any institution means one has a decisive power. It’s something online communities don’t have. Let me explain. I was paying attention to Mark’s work on FigShare from the very beginning, because it was an implementation of ideas on nanopublishing I heard from Fabiana and others at Science Online 2010. It’s great to see this finally materialized. But when certain performance or features of FigShare required some investment, there was an issue how to cover that (without stretching too much Mark’s PhD-student budget) and we had discussion or two on FriendFeed on this issue. In my view, microfinancing of such projects is not going to work – at least not in a near future. Given the importance of the FigShare (really, it’s very important to have such service), I’ve decided to step in and offer support from Systems Institute. No online community could provide financial support in a long term. Which is why Systems Institute was started and why I’ve recently complained that too few people try to institutionalize their work. Beautiful and brilliant things emerge from online collaborations. But to make them sustainable, we need supporting institution, even as virtual as SI is.
Now, go to FigShare and upload some data or never-to-be-published figures. But at the end of the day, please think long term about our ideas we discuss online and about work we do everyday. And read again Deepak’s post on Abundance.