Cameron Bowman is the festival scene’s inside man in the legal world. Known as the Festival Lawyer, his long career as an attorney has seen him involved in cases ranging from the death penalty and to criminal abuse. However, his true passion is defending people from the abuse of their civil liberties. He’s lectured festival fans and promoters alike about their rights and how best to avoid sticky legal entanglements by clearly understanding their rights. His heart, like so many music lovers, will always belong to the festival world.After taking a break from seeing shows and going to festivals for a brief detour for law school and a fast growing legal practice, he re-embraced his true passion: music. Amazed at the progression of the festival culture nationwide, he was sad to see that one thing hadn’t changed, the ease in which police were managing to trick people into acting against their own best interests during encounters with the general public. For years he’s written guest columns on protecting your rights, advised promoters on how best to keep their patrons safe from harassment, lectured eager festival goers about their rights at workshops, and is working to build a nationwide network of lawyers to help with concertgoers’ legal needs.We thought it might be a good time to talk with The Festival Lawyer, to get a bit of perspective and advice on how to handle any uncomfortable police encounters along the way to and at the gatherings we all love.Live For Live Music: Normally when I record these interviews, I warn folks not to admit to any crimes they’re not ready to face. I’m guessing that’s less necessary here…Cameron Bowman: That’s sound advice.L4LM: I understand you’re not just a lawyer but you’re a bit of a musician as well. It kinda seems like fate that you ended up adopting the role of “The Festival Lawyer.”CB: A musician is stretching it a bit. (Chuckles) I was really into music for a long time, but then I dropped it. I was the drummer in a really terrible band called The Throb. I was a college radio DJ and I even thought about making a career in some kind of music related area. But then I got to law school and I just got busier and busier and I just stopped going to concerts. But then when I finally started getting back out there it just felt so natural.L4LM: So what was it that brought you back to the concert life.CB: I was dating somebody who took me to Coachella and after that I was just blown away. Festivals were so different when I came back. When I was going to festivals they were just a one day thing, somewhere green like a ball park, and there was really not much to it, just a bunch of bands. Then when I started going to festivals again I was really just fascinated with the culture and the spirit of it all. It was so much different and I loved everything about it. I was hooked again, I started going to concerts and festivals a lot.L4LM: What year was it that you returned to the festival scene?CB: About six or seven years ago I started going again, and I’ve gone to Coachella every year since then. I’ve gone to every Outside Lands since then and a couple of dozen other live music events a year.L4LM: So what was it that made the law so attractive to you?CB: It’s interesting. I went to an interview for a job in Washington, DC, and I got it in a very flukey way. I was working for a congressman. I never had any intention to go to law school, never had any intention to be a lawyer. I went to law school because I thought I would like to keep working in Washington. When I got to law school I was one of the few students who hadn’t thought about it their whole lives. I was never like that. I just thought it was all really interesting. I thought it was important. I just really enjoyed it on a personal level. I realized it was something I was good at and I enjoyed it.It was one of those instances, where, and this is true a lot in life where, a small decision ends up having gigantic consequences. My sister said “Do you wanna take a road trip with me to DC. I need someone to share the drive?” and I said sure. I went with her and I ended up walking around the city looking for a job. I got an internship at a congressman’s office and that caused me to want to go to law school so I could keep working there. Now here I am and I’ve been practicing law now for the last twenty plus years.L4LM: There have been a few events recently that seem to fit squarely in your stated raison d’etre of helping festival goers know and exercise their rights. The biggest of these was the large amount of arrests made of people headed towards and into the Okeechobbee Music Festival in Florida a couple weeks ago and the subsequent mass dismissal of the charges against them. What exactly did the police do wrong?CM: That’s an interesting case. I have written before about what I call “Legal Urban Myths”and there is a very popular misconception that everyone believes to be legally true. There’s this belief that if your ticket says “I agree to be searched” that by itself waives all your Fourth Amendment rights and that police can search you at will. I would say that if you asked the average concert goer, they would say that that was their understanding of the law. But the law actually says you have the right to be free from search unless you give consent to be searched or you give what is called, “Implied Consent.”This is sometimes called an “Administrative Search.” The courts really don’t like these type of searches. They don’t like that you’re being required to agree to be searched as a condition of going into someplace unless your rights are being fully explained to you. In this case what the D.A. said was “We don’t think that they complied with the things that they have to do for an ‘Administrative Search’ to be valid.” The specific example that he gave was that they were required to have prominent signs that said you agree to be searched as a condition of entry. They also needed to make it clear to people coming in that they could withdraw their consent at any time and that if you say “I don’t wanna be searched after all” that you will be kicked out and your money refunded.So what they were doing wrong was not giving people proper notice about the search, and not letting people know that they could refuse to be searched.Courts Dismiss Dozens Of Okeechobee Arrests Due To Lack Of Probable CauseL4LM: You’re touching on a very important topic there. A lot of people don’t actually understand what their rights are in these situations. I know you’ve written and lectured about this topic many, many times, but could you give us a quick overview of exactly what your rights are in a situation like that?CM: First of all, I think that you’re right. The reality is there’s not a lot of good, basic legal education out there. We don’t tell people what their rights and obligations are. It’s a really important topic. It’s very important for people to understand their rights, especially these days. I would say the most common area where people run into trouble is first of all, they assume that festivals are basically a fourth amendment free zone. They think that somehow, because it’s on private property, that you paid an entrance fee and someone else owns the place that festival security can do whatever they want to you, and legally that’s just not trueFor the most part, it’s just like being anywhere else. The cops have to have a reason to stop you. They normally have to have a reason to search you unless you agree to it. To me, the first step is for people to realize that they do have rights. That’s the most common misconception. People don’t think they have any rights. But in reality you do. Every state is different, every situation is different. The most important thing to do is to educate yourself, go read about the law and find out more for yourself. Don’t just assume that when you go to an event like this that you don’t have any rights and you have to do what anyone says and that you’re basically at the whim of whoever you’re dealing with.L4LM: So inside a festival you can just refuse to be searched?CB: Well, it’s hard to get into specifics without having the exact details of the situation, but let’s say you’re on the grounds and a cop says they wanna search your bag or backpack or whatever. There’s a lot of legal factors involved, for example, whether you are dealing with a private security guard vs. a police officer. But in general yes, the police have to have some reason to stop and search you.In general, I’ll tell people to know their rights in terms of the following:Don’t agree or consent to any searches. That’s absolutely fundamental. If the cops are gonna search and they think they have a right to do it they’ll search you without your permission. But don’t make it easier for them. If they say “I wanna search this” your response is “No.” If they say they’re gonna go ahead and do it anyway let them do it. Cooperate. Be pleasant. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t fight with the cops. Don’t run. But don’t just agree to be searched.Another good thing to always keep in mind is that there’s never a good reason to give a statement to the police. Whether it’s about what you were doing, or whose bag this is or who you’re with. Again, obviously, don’t be a jerk. But If it gets to a point where you’re like “Okay, wait a minute…I’m under investigation…they’re talking to me” DON’T give a statement.Probably the most important thing I advise people is, find out what’s happening by asking the question “Am I free to go or am I being detained?” If the police feel you’re under investigation and that they have a reason to stop you and investigate you they will. But by asking that question, “Am I free to go?” or something similar like “Am I being detained” you instantly know if this is just a friendly encounter with the cops or you’re actually under investigation. If you are under investigation, you need to keep your mouth shut, ask for a lawyer and not agree to any searches.L4LM: And this advice works the same for outside the festival as well, correct? Say, on the way in through the gates?CB: Yes. It’s funny, the Okeechobee cases are probably the area where your rights are the least. I would say that walking into a festival to be searched as you enter is a place where your rights are at a least. Your rights are at their greatest in your home.L4LM: It sounds like the best answer, when dealing with the cops, is to just say no.CB: (Chuckles) Yeah. I always tell people in interactions with police officers is be pleasant, be polite, don’t run away or do anything stupid. But always keep in the back of your mind that your position is “I don’t agree to be searched. I’d like to leave if I can. Am I being detained?” Don’t make a statement. Basically there’s nothing you can do at that point if you’re under investigation that can help you. All you can do is hurt yourself and make it easier for the police officers.L4LM: How transferable is this advice from state to state?CB: That’s a great question. Everything I write and everything I do, I always put that caveat in there. I tell people that they’re going to have to do some leg work. You need to do a little research on your own for your particular state, or the state the festival is in. The bigger points I’ve talked about, such as not agreeing to be searched, asking if you’re being detained, not making a statement and asking for a lawyer pretty much go across the board for every state. Let me give you an example.I wrote a column about a year ago about whether or not you need a search warrant to search a vehicle. In California you don’t, as long as there is probable cause. But I had a bunch of people write to me to say that in Louisiana or some other states you DO need a search warrant because there’s a separate part of their state constitution that gives them additional rights. So there very definitely can be state by state variations and I try and always talk and write in terms of things that apply to everybody in every situation. But then I strongly encourage everybody to check into it themselves.L4LM: You’ve put in a lot of efforts to educate people about their rights going to and from and actually AT music festivals across the country. Have you gotten any backlash from your employers, peers or authority figures?CB: You know, very, very little. It’s interesting. The festival community is very helpful. People are very excited. They wanna help with the project. They wanna help with what i’m doing. Once in awhile I’ll get some person writing to me saying I’m just trying to help people take drugs, but honestly, very, very little. In fact, I was a D.A. for a lot of years and I have a lot of judges, D.A.s and cop friends and most of them agree that people need to know their rights. Of course, they ask me to be sure to never teach people to be aggressive jerks to people.That’s never my thing. I’m all about peace and love and taking care of each other. Education is really important.L4LM: That’s a fine sentiment. You mentioned you spent some time across the aisle on the prosecution side of the equation. I’m guessing your time there gave you some insight into the way the state operates.CB: Absolutely.L4LM: Do you see any kind of attitude change on the part of law enforcement thanks to the loosening of laws in regards to low scale drug use and possession?CB: I think that we’re finally starting to see some cracks in the war on drugs. The war on drugs has been a colossal failure. The thinking is starting to change. it’s not opening up yet, but I’m talking to cops and they’re saying off the record that they know it’s not working and we need to change. The old school prohibition mind set is still there though, and there are people who want to fight the drug war to the last bullet.L4LM: With the legalization of marijuana in some states showing signs of spreading, do you worry at all that this is gonna hurt your business?CB: (Laughs) You have to choose what you think is right, even if it means you get a few less dollars. I guess in a big picture way it might benefit me if more people were getting locked up, but I’ll happily live with the loss of business.L4LM: It’s like doctors in a way. Their business model would seem to benefit from not actually healing people, but of course that’s what they want to do.CB: (Laughs) Exactly.L4LM: So you started as a prosecutor. What led to your decision to switch sides?CB: I left the office about, god, ten years ago and honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a lawyer anymore. I went through a whole “What do I want to do with me life” kinda thing. I started doing a little criminal defense work just to see what it was like, and I really enjoyed it. It got me reinvigorated. I always felt the British have a better system. Over there you’re a prosecutor for awhile, then they flip you and you’re a defender for a while. It’s really important to see the other side. It would be hard to imagine going back, but I think the experience was really important to me.L4LM: That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of that aspect of the British legal system.CB: Yeah, they’ll normally have barristers that work on the prosecution side, then they switch them. And all the people I know who’ve done that, followed the same path as me all have the same things to say. It really is eye opening. You see the other side, you see another part of the human aspect. If you just do defense work you don’t see things like the victims of crimes and how they feel. I think it would be really helpful for everyone to experience both sides of the criminal justice equation.L4LM: We’ve all seen the guys going around in teams with brand new tye dyes and running shoes at music festivals. How prevalent is the use of undercovers at music festivals, and what exactly can and can’t they say to folks in their attempts to arrest them?CB: That’s another big understanding people have about their rights. I think the use of undercover officers at festivals across the country is very prevalent. Police departments use them at festivals to one degree or another. For example, here in northern California they’ve gone as far as to wear the “Kandi,” that’s with a “K,” they’ll be giving out kandi. They’ll be in ridiculous outfits. They’ll be, like in a pink bunny kinda thing and really really trying to catch people off their guard. Undercover operatives are way more prevalent at these events than people may realize.For example, at Beyond Wonderland last year officers were really skirting the edge of the law. It wasn’t quite entrapment. They’d say things like “My girlfriend really just needs one. She’s hurting” or “It’d be cool if you could help me out, it’s for my friend.” The actual law states that cops CAN lie to you. They can say that they’re not a cop, even though they are, no matter what you may have heard. The other thing people need to understand is that it’s not entrapment for them to pose as a raver or talk about PLUR or whatever. What they can’t do put you in a position where they make you think what you are doing isn’t illegal.They can’t try and get someone to commit a crime that wouldn’t normally commit. If they say anything to you to make you think something illegal isn’t a crime, that’s considered entrapment. But that’s a very high standard for people to show.L4LM: So if someone gets stopped at a music festival, or inside, who should they call? You?CB: One of the projects I’m working with is with the Drug Policy Alliance, or DPA. They’re one of the major groups trying to end the drug war. One of the projects we’re working on together is the Fest Law Network. That would be made up of attorneys and law students across the country who would agree to give those in need of advice a free consultation, tell you what to expect in the legal process and tell you what questions to ask if you decide to go with a public defender.It’s all part of the “Take care of each other” life. But yeah, they should call me, or someone. I really don’t advise anyone to go into a court situation without asking as many questions as they can and doing as much research to help themselves as possible.L4LM: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us and for all you’re doing to help keep people advised of their legal rights in some pretty scary situations.CB: Happy to do it. It’s been wonderful. Like I said, people in the festival community have been very supportive of what I’ve been doing, and that’s meant a lot to me. Everybody has been so positive, telling me to keep doing it, so that’s what I’m gonna do.
Brandon Victor Dixon Tony nominee Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple) was center stage in the original New York production of the John Kander and Fred Ebb musical The Scottsboro Boys in 2010, only to miss out on the show’s subsequent Broadway transfer and acclaimed 2013 London premiere at the Young Vic. Now he has returned to the starring role of Haywood Patterson—one of nine young black Americans accused of raping two white women in 1930s Alabama—for the show’s West End transfer, currently in previews at the Garrick Theatre. It’s an emotional homecoming—since last appearing in the musical, Alabama has granted posthumous pardons to three of the real-life “boys,” Dixon’s character included. Broadway.com caught up with Dixon to talk musicals that matter, mixing acting with producing, and what it might take to get him to stay in London.They say you can’t go home again, but you clearly have!Yes, I did all the readings and then the Vineyard production [off-Broadway] so it feels wonderful to come home and finish the other leg of our journey. I always thought from my knowledge of London theater and the audiences here that they would appreciate a truly genius piece of theatrical work.I assume conflicts elsewhere kept you from the show’s British premiere last fall at the Young Vic?I was in Motown [on Broadway] at the time but I’ve always been aware of each production of Scottsboro no matter where it’s happening. We’re all a family by this point.What is it like to reprise something from four years ago? Is your sense memory kicking in?In all honesty, this has been a wonderful experience but also a complicated one. I’ve never gone back to do a role again. Also, because some of our cast are from the Young Vic and some from Broadway, and some are new and some from the original, we’ve had to find a throughline so that we’re all operating from the same world.is it gratifying be reminded of a musical that is willing to take such risks in its depiction of a shameful chapter in American race relations?I just think this is a remarkable piece, not just in terms of its atypical subject matter, which is pretty much in the wheelhouse of Kander and Ebb, but the way in which they and [book writer] David Thompson and [director/choreographer] Susan Stroman managed to take this unknown but incredibly significant story and communicate the realities and circumstances of the times while putting it through a framework which is entertaining but also challenging.You mean the minstrel show format?Yes, which means that people can’t just watch [the production], they have to feel it; I think it’s an incredibly effective construction.Haywood is a remarkable figure in that he refused throughout to confess his guilt in order to gain parole.He’s the final straw that won’t break. In order to be pardoned, the other boys had to plead guilty, which Haywood wouldn’t do, so he is the one character who never makes it out of prison. It’s as if he is saying, “You’ve taken so much from me as a person and as a human being, that I won’t allow you that power over me.” He refuses to let anyone change or compromise who he is.Did you know a lot about this event before you first came to this show?I did not. I had to research the story to discover who these people were only to find that it was such a monumental moment in world history and nobody knew about it. My brother is a lawyer and he had studied the case in law school because it set a lot of legal practice but people for the most part are not educated about these kinds of stories in our history.And as recent history has shown, we’re not entirely out of the woods yet.Of course not. As much as things in America like segregation and Jim Crow have been abolished, the mentality that framed those things has not, so to that extent our show isn’t about Alabama—or racism in Alabama—as much as it’s about a mode of thinking that can become systemic in a society. And systems sometimes take longer to change than people do.You say that you’d always thought British audiences would get Scottsboro —have you spent time here?Yes, a friend and I were on the BADA [British American Drama Academy] program here at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1999, the year I turned 18. I used to shoot up to London to see theater and I still have an uncle who lives in Dollis Hill.You’re also a producer with two Broadway credits [Hedwig and Of Mice and Men]. How did that come about?I think from wanting as full an understanding of the production as possible, which means executing your lines and knowing who your character is but also how does my work fit into the context as a whole? My business partner Warren Adams and I formed our company WalkRunFly as part of what felt like a logical progression: if you want to execute things to your satisfaction, then you want to have as much control as you can. That leads to helping create work for others, not just yourself.They say one in seven Broadway shows pays back, but both of yours were hits!Frankly, some of those seven shows shouldn’t be on Broadway. For my money, there really are some ideas that are terrible ideas, so with regard to that one-in-seven success rate, you could argue that half of those should never have been produced.Might you return to Motown when the musical crosses the ocean to London next year?[Laughs.] We shall see, Matt, we shall see. Treat me nice, and I’ll stick around. View Comments Star Files
Thank you for tuning in to episode 77 of The CUInsight Experience podcast with your host, Randy Smith, co-founder of CUInsight.com. This episode is brought to you by our friends at PSCU. As the nation’s premier payments CUSO, PSCU proudly supports the success of more than 1,500 credit unions.For many low and moderate-income families across the country, Community Development Credit Unions (CDCUs) have been a vital support system throughout the COVID-19 crisis and resulting recession. On this week’s episode, Cathie Mahon, President and CEO of Inclusiv, and I dig into the importance of Community Development Credit Unions from coast to coast, as well as discuss the amazing work Inclusiv is doing to support these credit unions and their members now and going forward. During our conversation, Cathie and I talk about many of the challenges and fragile dynamics that come with serving low-income households. She shares some of the incredible ways CDCUs have responded during the crisis to ensure their members have access to their funds and accounts. We also discuss why credit unions need to be more aggressive in reaching out to and serving unbanked individuals, and how this crisis is helping Inclusiv to build and maintain a more robust network of credit unions. From there, Cathie and I chat at lenght about why she took the position at Inclusiv, how the inspiration has changed over the years, and why “perfect is the enemy of the good”. We also talk about building trust as a leader, what she’s learned from her mentors, and some of the things she does to unwind. During the show’s rapid-fire section, we learn that Cathie was a bit of a troublemaker in high school and that she wanted to be a journalist when she grew up. She also shares some of her favorite books, including one she recently finished, and explains why Bill Clinton is the first person to come to mind when she hears the word success. It was a blast getting to know Cathie better, and I hope to be able to cross paths with her again soon so we can continue this great conversation. Enjoy!Find the full show notes on cuinsight.comSubscribe on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher Books mentioned on The CUInsight Experience podcast: Book List How to find Cathie:Cathie Mahoncathie.firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.inclusiv.orgFacebook | Twitter | LinkedInShow notes from this episode:A big shout-out to our friends at PSCU, an amazing sponsor of The CUInsight Experience podcast. Thank you! Check out all the outstanding work that Cathie and her team at Inclusiv are doing here. Shout-out: Randy’s mother Learn more about how Puerto Rico’s network of financial cooperatives came together after Hurricane Maria in this great article from Inclusiv.Shout-out: Jill NowackiShout-out: Michael Bloomberg Shout-out: Cliff RosenthalShout-out: CUES Shout-out: Jonathan MintzShout-out: Sheilah Montgomery Shout-out: Lynda MiltonShout-out: Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NYShout-out: NPRAlbum mentioned: London Calling by The ClashAlbum mentioned: Get Happy by Elvis CostelloBook mentioned: The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Ernesto Che GuevaraBook mentioned: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia MarquezBook mentioned: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden KeefeShout-out: Bill ClintonShout-out: Clinton Global InitiativePrevious guests mentioned in this episode: Jill Nowacki (episodes 4, 18, 37 & 64)In This Episode:[02:25] – Cathie, welcome to the show![03:20] – Cathie shares how critical it is to have community development credit unions during these trying times.[04:57] – What are some challenges the lower-income members are facing, and how are the community development credit unions helping?[07:28] – Keeping branches open is just one way they are trying to help the communities.[09:34] – Cathie believes that how members interact with their credit unions will be changed forever.[11:42] – What do credit unions need to do to stay relevant to the pace of change that is happening now?[14:40] – Cathie shares what she will be most proud to have accomplished a year from now.[17:58] – Cathie and Randy speak about the experience of the PPP program.[18:45] – What inspired you to take the position as CEO at Inclusive?[20:23] – Cathie speaks about how the inspiration has changed with years on the job.[22:28] – The perfect is the enemy of the good is something Cathie’s team has heard her say so much they can finish the sentence.[23:51] – Making hard decisions is something Cathie has had to cultivate over the years.[26:32] – Cathie debunks a common myth about leadership.[27:51] – Is there a common mistake that you see young leaders make?[29:46] – Cathie speaks about the mentors she has had and what she learned from them.[32:24] – Cathie discusses what she likes to do to recharge when she has a day off.[33:21] – What were you like in high school and do you remember the first time you got into memorable trouble?[34:54] – Cathie says she wanted to be a journalist when she grew up.[36:10] – She shares some daily routines she does to keep her day in sync.[36:52] – What is the best album of all time?[37:28] – What book do you think everyone should read?[38:18] – Trying to figure out balance has become more important, and solving problems at work has become less important.[39:19] – When you hear the word success, which is the first person who comes to mind?[40:13] – Cathie shares some final thoughts for the listeners.[40:54] – Thank you so much for being on the show! 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Randall Smith Randall Smith is the co-founder of CUInsight.com, the host of The CUInsight Experience podcast, and a bit of a wanderlust.As one of the co-founders of CUInsight.com he … Web: www.CUInsight.com Details
To a middle school student, science is a clear category; it’s a subject you take, along with history, language, or P.E. You have a science teacher; you read a science textbook. You learn about the scientific method. In the real world, though, categories are not always so clearly delineated. In fact, the leading science journal, Nature, seems to be asking some fundamental questions about the methods and materials of its very reason for being. This week, Nature presented a debate between two cancer researchers on whether scientific research should proceed “hypothesis first” or “data first.” The controversy has arisen, in part, by the technology available. Large-scale genomic surveys are now possible, and funds are being focused away from traditional methods toward obtaining vast databases of genetic information. Robert Weinberg is alarmed at the trend; he argued that mere data collection without understanding is pointless and that the funding shifts are discouraging small research projects from which major insights have been traditionally been made.1 Todd Golub argued that patterns in complex phenomena become apparent only when there is sufficient data available.2 It takes a lot of data to separate signal from noise; therefore data collection is essential before new hypotheses can be generated. The interesting thing about these articles is not who won the debate, but that a question so basic about the scientific method needs to be asked nearly 400 years after Francis Bacon. To what extent is the question a consequence of the sheer volume of data that can be accumulated and stored? The scientific method was devised when data was written with a quill on parchment. Peer review is another focal point of dispute. Last week, Nature applauded a British research council that is cracking down on the practice of flooding review agencies with grant applications.3 Because the odds of winning a grant are low, “low success rates lead researchers to submit more applications in the hope of securing at least some funding, overburdening peer reviewers,” the editors explained. “The system ends up rewarding safe, short-term research proposals that meet everyone’s approval, at the cost of the innovative suggestions it should be supporting.” The council now says that if you don’t secure funding, you are limited to one application the following year. They feel the council’s new “‘blacklisting’ rule is a radical, unpopular but courageous effort to address a crisis in the peer-review system.” But will the cure be worse than the disease?The consequences of the revised policy are uncertain. Thanks to other peer-review changes, applications have already been cut by about a third since last year, and success rates are up. But the new policy’s threat of exclusion may further discourage adventurous funding bids. The EPSRC also runs the risk of alienating its community, making it harder to find peer reviewers – who are in increasingly scarce supply.The rule has already generated inequities and complaints. Nature still thinks it was a good move that requires fine-tuning. No one is sure at this point what will happen. Could luck play a role in who gets in the game? “Other scientists have worried that an application is marked ‘unsuccessful’ if it falls below the halfway point on a list of proposals ranked by panels of peer reviewers � a criterion that not only seems arbitrary, but also risks taking out good researchers who are simply unlucky.” Imagine if the loser in this process had been a young new Isaac Newton. The editors left it open if the council’s “gutsy gamble” will work, and noted that other councils are watching what happens. Letters to the editor are often interesting to read. Three biologists from three widely respected scientific institutions wrote Nature last week in a huff, challenging the editors’ definition of science. As a follow-up to the Human Genome Project, now 10 years old, Nature’s editors had written that it is “Time for the epigenome” project.4 The three scientists were “astonished” at that editorial,5 claiming that it seemed to “disregard principles of gene regulation and of evolutionary and developmental biology that have been established during the past 50 years.” Their complaint was not just about disagreements on traditional practices, but about Nature’s acceptance of the idea that the epigenome has a “scientific basis” at all. Undoubtedly the editors would take umbrage at challenges to their ability to judge what constitutes science. The internet age is shifting the dynamics of scientific practice. However comfortable the world was with the peer-reviewed publishing paradigm, times have changed. Instant internet access is democratizing science in many ways. Nature has read the tea leaves and is adjusting. In a dramatic move, Nature’s editors are opening up their once-impregnable editorial fortress and letting the peasants in. “Nature’s new online commenting facility opens up the entire magazine for discussion,” the Editorial announced this week.6 They have some concerns about signal to noise; comments will be vetted and monitored to weed out libel, obscenity or unjustified accusations – but not trivia. They will review their approach after a few months. Nevertheless, the popularity of internet blogs has not been lost on Nature and they are seeing the value of interesting and lively dialogue. It appears from the comments to this editorial that many think it’s a great idea. Perhaps the best way to evaluate good science is with some form of measurement. Alas, another paper in Nature pointed out serious failings in that regard. In an Opinion piece last week,7 Julia Lane proposed, “Let’s make science metrics more scientific.” She wasn’t discussing better ohmmeters or ammeters – the subtitle explained, “To capture the essence of good science, stakeholders must combine forces to create an open, sound and consistent system for measuring all the activities that make up academic productivity, says Julia Lane” She described the problem in stark reality:Measuring and assessing academic performance is now a fact of scientific life. Decisions ranging from tenure to the ranking and funding of universities depend on metrics. Yet current systems of measurement are inadequate. Widely used metrics, from the newly-fashionable Hirsch index to the 50-year-old citation index, are of limited use. Their well-known flaws include favouring older researchers, capturing few aspects of scientists’ jobs and lumping together verified and discredited science. Many funding agencies use these metrics to evaluate institutional performance, compounding the problems. Existing metrics do not capture the full range of activities that support and transmit scientific ideas, which can be as varied as mentoring, blogging or creating industrial prototypes. The dangers of poor metrics are well known – and science should learn lessons from the experiences of other fields, such as business. The management literature is rich in sad examples of rewards tied to ill-conceived measures, resulting in perverse outcomes. When the Heinz food company rewarded employees for divisional earnings increases, for instance, managers played the system by manipulating the timing of shipments and pre-payments. Similarly, narrow or biased measures of scientific achievement can lead to narrow and biased science.Whether Lane’s suggestions will solve these is another question. The fact that she opened them up for discussion in Nature should be enough to raise eyebrows among those who think of science as an unbiased enterprise. Lane’s paper did more to elaborate on the problems than to solve them. Moreover, her solutions sound like an internet-age Web 3.0 pipe dream:How can we best bring all this theory and practice together? An international data platform supported by funding agencies could include a virtual ‘collaboratory’, in which ideas and potential solutions can be posited and discussed. This would bring social scientists together with working natural scientists to develop metrics and test their validity through wikis, blogs and discussion groups, thus building a community of practice. Such a discussion should be open to all ideas and theories and not restricted to traditional bibliometric approaches.Something “should” be done, she ended: “Some fifty years after the first quantitative attempts at citation indexing, it should be feasible to create more reliable, more transparent and more flexible metrics of scientific performance.” She claimed “The foundations have been laid” but it’s evident that little is being done yet. That means all the problems she listed are today’s risks and realities. Someday, over the rainbow, “Far-sighted action can ensure that metrics goes beyond identifying ‘star’ researchers, nations or ideas, to capturing the essence of what it means to be a good scientist.” It’s clear that science is evolving, as it always has. But what is it evolving from, and what is it evolving toward? If science itself is not stable, has it ever been – or will it ever be – a reliable method of gaining understanding?8 1. Robert Weinberg, “Point: Hypotheses first,” Nature 464, 678 (1 April 2010) | doi:10.1038/464678a; Published online 31 March 2010.2. Todd Golub, “Counterpoint: Data first,” Nature 464, 679 (1 April 2010) | doi:10.1038/464679a; Published online 31 March 2010.3. Editorial, “Tough love,” Nature 464, 465 (25 March 2010) | doi:10.1038/464465a; Published online 24 March 2010.4. Editorial, “Time for the epigenome,” Nature 463, 587 (4 February 2010) | doi:10.1038/463587a; Published online 3 February 2010.5. Ptashne, Hobert and Davidson, “Questions over the scientific basis of epigenome project,” Nature 464, 487 (25 March 2010) | doi:10.1038/464487c.6. Editorial, “Content rules,” Nature 464, 466 (25 March 2010) | doi:10.1038/464466a; Published online 24 March 2010.7. Julia Lane, “Let’s make science metrics more scientific,” Nature 464, 488-489 (25 March 2010) | doi:10.1038/464488a; Published online 24 March 2010.8. “Understanding” is not the same thing as explanation, prediction, and control. Scientific theories can provide those things and still be wrong or lacking in understanding of reality. See the 3/17/2010 commentary.Science is mediated through fallible human beings. It is not “out there” in the world, to be retrieved in some unbiased way. Human beings have to figure out not only what nature is showing us – they have to figure out what nature is, and what science is. At every step there are decisions to be made by creatures who don’t know everything and who weren’t there at the beginning. We must divest our minds of the notion that science is an unbiased method that obtains incontrovertible truth. That is certainly not the case to an evolutionist. If blind processes produced human beings, we have no necessary or certain access to external reality. Some philosophers have tried to defend “evolutionary epistemology” – a notion that if evolution had not put us in touch with reality, we would not have survived. That’s a self-referential fallacy that assumes reality is real and that evolution is capable of addressing philosophical questions. Science is supposed to be a systematic attempt to discern and understand the natural world, but all attempts to define science in ways that keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out have failed. Take any definition of science and you will find examples: is science methodologically rigorous? So is astrology. Is science restricted to repeatable observation? Better not talk about dark energy or black holes. Does it make predictions? Some sportscasters score better than the 5% confidence level considered statistically significant in scientific experiments. Is it the consensus of the learned? Astrology, alchemy and Ptolemaic astronomy had long and established credentials. Is it restricted to explanations based on natural law? So much for chaos theory, probability and any explanation invoking contingency, like evolution. Is it restricted to natural explanations for natural phenomena? Read creationist journals and you will find much of this, yet the scientific establishment routinely excludes their views. Consistent philosophers of science have had to agree that by any normal definition, creation science is scientific – or else you wind up excluding other approaches the establishment doesn’t want to give up. No two philosophers of science agree completely on what science is, let alone what scientists should be doing. Philosophers differ wildly on the nature of scientific discovery, the nature of scientific evidence, and the nature and propriety of scientific explanation. The whole field is riddled with deep and unresolved questions. If you resort to an operational definition, it becomes circular: What is science? Science is what scientists do. What do scientists do? Science. In practice, “science” is often defined as whatever those in power take it to mean. As shown by the letter to Nature above, they sometimes can’t agree among themselves. The practice of science has changed considerably over the centuries. In the early 18th century, interested amateurs like James Joule worked independently and discussed their findings at local scientific societies that were little more than clubs. Today there is rapid, instantaneous conversation via the internet – some good, some bad, some ugly. Science has become a human social phenomenon wielding immense political and economic power. Many individual scientists do their work honestly; they really want to figure out the truth about some phenomenon, find a cure, bring clarity to a question about nature, organize our accumulating data in a useful way. At every level, though, human frailty is an intrinsic factor. Consider these very practical issues that each require decisions based on fallible human opinions:Who gets funding.How one increases the odds of getting funding.How much funding is needed (meat over gravy).How much one has to go along to get along.What school one goes to, and how it affects prestige.How one’s work is perceived by one’s peers.The availability of peer reviewers.Whether the peer reviewers are unbiased or potential rivals.How many peer reviewers are enough.Whether a glass ceiling exists for women researchers.Whether the good-old-boys club keeps out young or female entrants.Whether a consensus represents confidence or inertia.To what extent a consensus muscles out the mavericks.Whether a maverick has a view worth hearing (who decides?)The effect of tenure or the lack of it on objectivity.Whether corporate funding biases the findings.Whether government funding biases the findings.Whether individual hubris biases the findings (think Mesmer).The influence of one or more strong personalities in a field (think Freud).Whether quantity of research activity correlates with significance.Whether number of published papers correlates with understanding.Whether volume of writing on a subject correlates with its value.The extent to which references reinforce dogma (see 03/17/2006).How long it takes for new knowledge, or falsified theories, to become generally known (01/15/2010).Whether public comments provide signal or noise.Whether an expensive project provides value.How a project’s perceived value is to be measured.How the quality of scientific activity or results is to be measured.At what point a project outlives its usefulness.Whether the issue being investigated is a scientific question.These and other issues raise an interesting thought: is a kid doing a science project she loves, or a citizen scientist pursuing a question out of his own interest and curiosity, closer to the pure scientific ideal? But if so, how would they ever afford to build a Large Hadron Collider? The expense of large scientific research programs has created a monstrosity of institutions, political processes and issues about what it is science is trying to do and why. It might be compared to how San Francisco became a boom town to support the gold miners. A lot of ancillary activity emerged (including crime and saloons) whose relevance to the activity of mining was questionable. Nevertheless, we’re stuck with Big Science. Whether more openness to public visibility via the internet will keep it honest (or make it honest) remains to be seen.Exercise: Add to our list of non-epistemic factors that must be considered in evaluating the nature and results of science.(Visited 22 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
klint finley Ovsyannikov says Zendesk has chosen to focus on Twitter first, even though Facebook has more users, because Twitter has more business relevance. Twitter is also one of Zendesk’s biggest clients, so the two companies were able to work together closely in creating the integration.Ovsyannikov says businesses monitoring and engaging Twitter currently e-mail tweets into existing ticketing systems. “But e-mail isn’t a workflow tool,” he says “So we’re bringing Twitter directly into businesses’ workflow.”Zendesk offers tools for integrating its software with Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, Basecamp and many other platforms. These tools can act as bridges from Twitter to other parts of the enterprise. Ovsyannikov hopes Zendesk will bring customer feedback directly to C level executives. Given some of Forrester’s recent research on the lack of cohesion between different departments’ use of social media to communicate with customers, Zendesk could provide the glue necessary to combine disparate social media projects enterprise-wide.As we’ve reported, KickApps is also working to integrate social media across multiple enterprise platforms, although in different ways.And if you haven’t seen it before, be sure to check out the FM3 Buddha Machine Wall on Zendesk’s site. Tags:#enterprise#news#Products#saas Help desk SaaS provider Zendesk announced new Twitter integration features today, including the ability to create new Zendesk tickets directly from Twitter, record Twitter conversation as part of a ticket, and share relevant Twitter conversations with colleagues across internal platforms. Zendesk users will also be able find mentions of a brand on Twitter, and prioritize responses based on the follower count of individuals criticizing a brand.A recent Harris Poll released earlier this month found nearly 2/3 of its US-baed sample use social media. Out of all respondents, 26% use social media to complain about a brand or product and another 23% use social media to talk about a brand or product they like – 34% total had used social media to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product or company. Nearly half (45%) said they were influenced by testimonials on social media by people they know – approximately the same number that say they are influenced by newspaper or magazine articles (46%).Given those numbers, companies are right to take social media more seriously than ever. And integrating social media directly into customer service software is a logical move. According to Zendesk, users will now be able to:Turn a tweet into a new Zendesk ticket — a twicket — with one clickRecord threaded Twitter conversations with full audit trail Combine public and private dialog while maintaining confidentialitySwitch a Twitter conversation into an email conversationBecause the creation of tickets will be based on the “favorite” button, the integration won’t require special plugins for existing Twitter client like TweetDeck or HootSuite. However, Maksim Ovsyannikov, VP of Product Management at Zendesk, says some developers may add Zendesk buttons their clients.Here’s an example of a Twitter conversation in Zendesk, along with an internal notes: Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Related Posts IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…