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The White House Sends an Invitation: PCAST Meeting Aug. 6 and 7
Friday, July 31 2009 @ 12:24 PM EDT

I got a Media and Stakeholder Advisory from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, that there will be a meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) on Thursday, August 6 and Friday, August 7 from 10 AM to 6 PM in Washington, DC.:
PCAST will hold its inaugural meeting on August 6-7, 2009. During this meeting, PCAST will discuss possible studies it might undertake.

If you are interested in either observing the PCAST meeting, or making a comment (5 minutes or less) to PCAST at its meeting, please email If attending the meeting, please indicate if you are planning to attend August 6, August 7, or both days. You are welcome to send written comments to PCAST at any time.

PCAST is a group of scientists and engineers who advise the President and the Office of the President, providing policy recommendations. The purpose of the meeting is to set priorities for the coming year.

I know many of you are stakeholders, CEOs and executives of companies and leaders and contributors to software projects, but you don't have to be: the general public can contribute also. I'd so dearly love to go and speak about FOSS, but I don't feel it would be wise, due to the death threat situation, but you can go and represent yourself. And it will be streamed. There is even an opportunity to send written comments at any time. I'll give you the details in a moment, but if you've ever complained that the government is clueless about tech and FOSS, this is your opportunity to contribute in a positive way.

The fact that Groklaw was sent the notice is, to me, a sign that the White House is not clueless about tech or FOSS, by the way. And I noticed when I visited their web site that anyone can send written materials for them to consider also. Is this something Groklaw as a group would like to do? I'll leave it to you. If so, we could work right here, in public, as we did when we wrote a group letter to SCO. I believe this is what they call an educational moment.

To do a written letter, we'd need to come up with topics. To do that meaningfully, you'd need to carefully read everything on the site, then attend at least the streamed event, and then we can decide what topics we'd like to write about, and what we feel would be useful and effective to say.

But you are free to do the same thing as an individual or as a company or a project. Of course, you can't represent Groklaw.

There are some directions on how to participate, should you wish to. Here's the web site about the event, where the details on the agenda will be posted and where you go to watch the streamed event. Note that Friday is going to be crowded, so register quickly if you wish to go, no later than 3 PM August 5 in any case. It's first come, first served. Here's the agenda [PDF] or you can read it in the Federal Register [PDF]. Notice this part:

There will be time allocated for the public to comment on the above agenda items in afternoon of August 6, 2009. This public comment period is designed for substantive commentary on PCAST's work topics, not for business marketing purposes.

Members of the public wishing to reserve speaking time must contact Dr. Deborah D. Stine, PCAST Executive Director, at dstine at, [PJ: phone and fax provided in PDF], at least five (5) business days in advance of the meeting.

Obviously, you can't meet that requirement, but they sent me the advisory after that was published, so while it's possible the public slots are filled, you can ask, but you need to do it immediately. The time is limited to 5-minute comments, and they've allotted 20 minutes total, which is why I'm thinking a written submission would be more practical and useful:
Written comments are also welcome at any time before or following the meeting. Written comments received at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting will be made available to the members before their meeting. Written comments received after that point may not be reviewed by the members until after the meeting takes place.

You can read some of the reports already posted here. President Barack Obama said this about PCAST, as posted on the PCAST site:

"This council represents leaders from many scientific disciplines who will bring a diversity of experience and views," President Barack Obama said. I will charge PCAST with advising me about national strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific innovation."
I believe you folks have some ideas on that very topic. This is not, of course, a time to speak about marketing or pushing your company. This is about the science, the tech, and innovation. I believe some of you have important comments to contribute. So, what do you think?


The White House Sends an Invitation: PCAST Meeting Aug. 6 and 7 | 90 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Death threat?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 12:32 PM EDT
First of all, congratulations!

But, you mean you can't go to a Presidential Council meeting because of death
threats against you? What kind of country do you live in?


[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here please, if needed
Authored by: tiger99 on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 12:33 PM EDT
To assist PJ

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 12:35 PM EDT
Please remember the clickies, and try not to put on-topic stuff in this thread.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspick discussions here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 12:36 PM EDT
It is a good idea, and very helpful to us all, to put the title of the relevant
Groklaw newspick in the title of your post.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The White House Sends an Invitation: PCAST Meeting Aug. 6 and 7
Authored by: MikeA on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 01:09 PM EDT
Quote: I will charge PCAST with advising me about national
strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific

The first thing that strikes me is that the "culture of
scientific innovation" was built on the foundation of
sharing information in a very open and cooperative way. In
recent years however, this tradition has been stifled by a
culture of proprietary copyrights and secrecy.

In my opinion, any topic submitted should address this.

'Unifying UNIX with Linux for Business' are trademarks or registered trademarks
of Caldera International, Inc."

[ Reply to This | # ]

The White House Sends an Invitation: PCAST Meeting Aug. 6 and 7
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 01:19 PM EDT
D was for Darl :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

The agenda has only half an hour for public comments
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 01:24 PM EDT
At five minutes each, that's a grand total of six members of the public giving
their input.

So I'm guessing that the main point of the meetings is not to hear from the
public. That's not to say that we shouldn't give input. We should. But I'm
thinking that sending it electronically will be more useful than showing up in
person, sitting around all day, and finding out that "due to too many
people wishing to speak" we don't actually get to say anything at all.


[ Reply to This | # ]

    If Intellectual Property ends up on the menu...
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 01:42 PM EDT

    I'd certainly like to see the White House reconsider what the proper exchange is supposed to be and then take steps to bring that back into balance.

    For example, Copyright is supposed to be a limited sanctioned monopoly in exchange for the work provided to the public. It's face has altered to the point it can no longer be considered either limited or an exchange.

    "Life of the author + 25 years" can hardly be considered limited within the lifetimes of the public that should be enjoying such art.

    Being able to not provide a full and complete copy of the work to the USPTO so the USPTO can ensure the product is not lost in time and it does make it's way into the public domain certainly avoids the requirement of the exchange.

    Patents hold the same exchange issue. They fail in that the patents being granted do not properly describe the "invention". Patents also pose a problem with regards the fact they weren't originally meant to be applied broadly over any invention. My understanding is that they were meant to cover the more exceptional inventions which is why "obviousness" is a test.

    Just part of my wishlist I'd like the White House to evaluate from the perspective of Society rather than the perspective of the vested interest of Business.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Geez PJ, I had no idea
    Authored by: billyskank on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 02:22 PM EDT
    I sit here in total safety and anonymity reading Groklaw basically for
    entertainment (if I'm honest), and no-one cares in the least who I am. I had no
    idea what kind of stuff you have to put with, for our sake, and I feel most

    It's not the software that's free; it's you.

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Medicare and FOSS
    Authored by: Eeyore on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 04:01 PM EDT
    I work for a company that deals with the Medicare (CMS) decision makers all the
    time. And while there may be some inroads being made into other areas of the
    federal government, this doesn't seem to be the case with CMS.

    For instance, I was told just last week that a product could NOT be considered
    because it is "open source" and CMS doesn't allow that.

    I honestly don't know if that is right or wrong, but it feels right talking to
    their staff.

    Such a shame!

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    The White House Sends an Invitation: PCAST Meeting Aug. 6 and 7
    Authored by: snakebitehurts on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 07:15 PM EDT

    Congrats! What an honor to get such an invitation!

    I understand the concerns for your safety. Is there a possibility that they can
    provide security for you?

    As far as this meeting, is there any media reporter that has fought as hard as
    you for open standards; and is more qualified to speak on this subject? An
    argument could be made that you are the most credible and visible speaker on the
    fight for open standards.

    If you can't attend, I certainly hope you will make your voice heard through the
    one of the other methods they listed.

    Congrats again!


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    PCAST letter tread
    Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 31 2009 @ 07:44 PM EDT
    With regard to strategies to nurture and sustain a culture of scientific
    innovation, what do you feel needs to be said...?

    [ Reply to This | # ]

    This is wide open - even Space Exploration could be mentioned
    Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Saturday, August 01 2009 @ 01:53 AM EDT

    And I for one, think that the space shuttle fleet shouldn't be retired. In fact
    I'd like to see new shuttles built, and the ISS expanded further.


    [ Reply to This | # ]

    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, August 02 2009 @ 09:36 PM EDT

    banning gene and software patenting - as already shown, nothing good will come of these.

    abuse of copyright - it's a two-way street

    open-sourcing of technology developed to counter climate-change - a global response doesn't require yet more global exploitation

    ... and I'd also suggest you reply early and include a short-list of your favourite beers.

    Charles from Oz

    [ Reply to This | # ]

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