Jason Morrison

Make stuff.


Last weekend, I has the pleasure to attend BarCampRochester which was a great time. Thanks to the organizers and sponsors for making this happen!

I gave a session that introduced synthetic biology, iGEM, their motivations, and surrounding issues. I’ve uploaded my slides in PDF (1.5MB): Synthetic Biology at BarCampRochester.

Here are a few takeaways from some of the sessions I attended:

There was a great session and discussion about intellectual property: copyright, patents, and trademarks – in particular how these apply to software and why patents aren’t necessarily evil (although the patent duration is surely out of touch with the speed of the software market). I’ll be reading more about Open Innovation, with an eye toward its applicability to both software and science.

Al Biles led a brainstorming session about the nature of creativity and what it means to be creative. This was an open-ended discussion with an exploratory nature, and was quite enjoyable. Al differentiated between P-creativity, which is an act that is original from an indivudal’s perspective, and H-creativity, which is an act that is original with respect to all known history. He also recommended Margaret Boden’s “Dimensions of Creativity.”

I learned about the difficultly of accessing supposedly open governmental data in the US due to its distribution in proprietary or obtuse formats. Consider a database that is made accessible by taking screenshots from within the Oracle admin tool, printing these out, scanning them back in, and distributing the lot as a PDF. Fighting the good fight, there are projects like those at the Sunlight Foundation that focus on making this data more readily accessible.

Then, there are projects like EveryBlock, which collates such data and lets you filter it by location, so you can learn about happenings in your neighborhood from crimes to business licensing to permit issuances. This is a great trend, and I hope to see it grow both in the domain of making data accessible and making it useful.

Following up on the political theme, I was in a thought-provoking session called “So you want to become a lobbyist?” that took a look at the importance of some of the “nuts and bolts” political issues like redistricting, and how effective grassroots movements are on a local scale (the consensus: very effective). Remy made an interesting point that grassroots means person-to-person, whether that’s door-to-door or online.

Sam & Katie gave a refreshing talk about relationship branding: 2 cool kids = 1 cool brand: thinkskinc.com.

Justin Thorp has a great post that he wrote post-BarCamp about starting your personal branding in college that is spot on. Having attended a fair number of conferences, I was also caught slightly off-guard by the lack of biz card trading. Go go day job plug for business cards!

Finally, if you’re in the Rochester, NY area, definitely check out the Society of Lectors, a group of folks who hold regular meetings to give BarCamp style presentations on a wide gamut of topics. Go brush up on your presentation skillz, and learn something new!