with freedom comes responsibility: open publishing

As of a few months ago, I’m no longer on a publish-or-perish academic track. Mozilla gives me the freedom to publish, but no pressure. Coincidentally, the publishing world is at a bit of a crossroads. Some organizations, like USENIX, are increasingly open: all papers are published for the world to see, many talks are videotaped and available openly. Others, like IEEE, are increasingly closed, with tighter and tighter constraints on authors, more paywalls and obstacles to the dissemination of knowledge. I’ve got increased freedom, so I intend to use it. Starting today, I will not publish nor review papers destined … Continue reading with freedom comes responsibility: open publishing

2 months in at Mozilla

It’s been 2 months since I started at Mozilla. I’m working with fantastically talented and friendly people. I’m enjoying myself tremendously and I’m starting to get a sense of what makes Mozilla different from my previous experiences. Put simply, it’s teamwork. In his speech to Harvard Med School graduates last week (stick with me here, this is relevant), Atul Gawande (author of the Checklist Manifesto), laid out, in his clearest and most convincing argument yet, how the practice of medicine needs to change: The core structure of medicine emerged in an era when doctors could hold all the key information … Continue reading 2 months in at Mozilla


In a few days, I’ll be joining Mozilla. What started as a fun lunch with Sid and Alex quickly turned into passionate brainstorming with Mike, Pascal, and Lloyd on the Mozilla Labs team. I told them I wanted to deeply explore a few ideas I’ve written about and prototyped (here and here, for example) and more importantly to work on making the browser a true user agent working on behalf of the user. Mozilla folks are not only strongly aligned with that point of view, they’ve already done quite a bit to make it happen. Check out Mike Hanson’s post … Continue reading benadida@mozilla

a personal update

Tomorrow (Jan 31st) is my last day on the Research Faculty at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston. It’s been a fantastic ride thanks entirely to the folks with whom I had the pleasure of working, in particular Zak Kohane and Ken Mandl. Ultimately, I finally noticed what was staring me in the face: I love building software systems, and the right place for me to do that now is industry. I’m no stranger to it, and I’m excited to be back. I’m taking two weeks off. I won’t be blogging or tweeting (much). I’ll be digging into a … Continue reading a personal update

The Accidental Tinkerer, Unexpected Lock-in, and Fatherhood

Ben Fry recently explained his concerns about the iPad: I want to build software for this thing. I’m really excited about the idea of a touch-screen computing platform that’s available for general use from a known brand who has successfully marketed unfamiliar devices to a wide audience. [..] It represents an incredible opportunity, but I can’t get excited about it because of Apple’s attempt to control who creates for it, and what they can create for it. Their policy of being the sole distributor of applications, and even worse, requiring approval on all applications, is insulting to developers. [..] I … Continue reading The Accidental Tinkerer, Unexpected Lock-in, and Fatherhood

Owning Genes

At some point in the history of patents, something went a little nutty: it became possible to patent genes themselves. Not “a method for extracting” a gene. Not “a method for synthesizing” a gene. But the gene itself. As a result, a number of biotech companies own human genes. If you want to find out if you have a dangerous mutation that predisposes you to breast cancer, no matter which lab you choose, no matter which technology they use to test you, they have to pay a royalty fee to the gene patent holder. One can have a number of … Continue reading Owning Genes

Does CVS provide a CSV?

Over the last two years, I’ve spent most of my time on… not elections believe it or not, but rather the personal control of health data over at Children’s Hospital, Boston, with a fantastic crew. And so now it turns out that health data is super cool, what with the Obama recovery plan and the significant funding towards NIH / electronic medical records. I didn’t see it coming, but I can’t say I’m unhappy, of course. Over at CHIP (Children’s Hospital Informatics Program), we’re a bunch of folks who feverishly believe that Personally Controlled Health Records (PCHRs), records you get … Continue reading Does CVS provide a CSV?