Blog from March, 2012

As described here:

... Thoreau ... meticulously observed the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord, Massachusetts, between 1851 and 1858, recording them in a set of tables. When Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing discovered Thoreau's unpublished records, they immediately realized how useful they would be for pinning down the impact of the changing climate over the last century and a half. The timing of seasonal events such as flowering dates is known as phenology, and the phenologies of plants in a temperate climate such as that of Massachusetts are very sensitive to temperature, say the scientists. Studying phenology is therefore a good indicator of ecological responses to climate change.

Here's a story that speaks both to the changes in how people interact with media and creativity discussed by, among others, Yochai Benkler and Clay Shirky, and to the question of copyright's effects on culture explored by Lawrence Lessig. Examining the world of Star Trek fan fiction (fan television?) could be an interesting way to arrive at your own thesis about some of these matters; it could also make for a good Storify.

The Supreme Court has ruled on whether the company Myriad Genetics can patent two genes connected with breast and ovarian cancer, a case I blogged about in 2010 and again last year. (At least, they've sort of ruled, telling the appeals court that reversed a lower court's ruling invalidating the patent to give the case another look.)

This case, together with the larger question whether some intellectual property claims represent an attempt to patent Nature itself, would make interesting material for a Storify or a conventional essay.

The Department of Justice's investigation of possible collusion between Apple and five major publishers to fix e-book prices has raised some interesting issues.

Here's our old friend Scott Turow, President of the Author's Guild, which brought suit against Google's Book Search project in 2005. Earlier this semester, we looked at Turow's NY Times op-ed (co-authored by Paul Aiken and James Shapiro), "Would the Bard Have Survived the Web," which argues that the kind of "cultural paywall" erected by copyright law is essential to the flourishing of literary art such as Shakespeare's.

At techdirt, Tim Cushing is more than skeptical of Turow's argument.

At Slate, Matthew Yglesias steers something of a middle course; he sees the Author's Guild as unwilling to face the inevitable but also thinks the DOJ's case against Apple and the five publishers as "borderline absurd."

Anyone interested in assembling web resources and providing perspective on this developing story in Storify?