Category Archives: Enterprise

#WHDemoDay and #ADAinitiative — Oh, the Irony

Welcome to Demo Day at the White House! (Megan Smith, the First US Chief Technology Officer)

“It’s a tradition in the tech community to show off amazing things that people have built. … All Americans do this. All American are capable of this. And it’s a big part of our future, and it’s always been a big part of our past.”

Yesterday was a landmark day in diversity and inclusion.

Yesterday saw the first ever White House Demo Day (#WHDemoDay), for women and minority entrepreneurs and innovators to ‘pitch’ their ideas to President Obama.

Yesterday saw the end of the ADA Initiative, “a feminist organization. We strive to serve the interests and needs of women in open technology and culture who are at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression, including disabled women, women of color, LBTQ women, and women from around the world.” (Ada Initiative, About Us)

How enormously ironic to see the closing of the one with the opening of the other, and both with such closely related missions. I can only hope that this first White House Demo Day proves to be one of many, and that the effort continues to embrace and support diversity as essential to American creativity and innovation.

White House Demo Day

The White House Demo Day had demonstrations to illustrate the diversity of people contributing to the innovation that helps strengthen the American economy. Most of the companies presenting had at least one woman founder or co-founder. Almost as many of the companies presenting had a founder that is a person of color or who shows ethnic or cultural diversity. The two companies represented by white men were (1) military, and (2) a winner of the XPRIZE. There were a few wonderful presenters from Michigan, including Ann-Marie Sastry of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor talking about her innovations in batteries and power storage. Products presented included new search engines based on cognitive models, medical innovations in cancer / HIV / aging / asthma, parenting tools, strategies for empowering patients, creative ways to repay student loans, several on converting ‘waste’ to profit, and much more. There was even Zoobean, who partner with libraries to recommend books and apps based on children’s preferences.

White House Demo Day

Part of what made this so wonderful (and why I wish I’d heard about it sooner) was the move to encourage parallel events across the country. I wish we’d done this here! Here are some tweets about the high points.

Read about the presenters here. Listen to the pitches here.

President Obama Hosts the First-Ever White House Demo Day

White House Demo Day:

Ada Initiative

“When the Ada Initiative was founded in 2011, the environment for women in open technology and culture was extremely hostile. Conference anti-harassment policies were rare outside of certain areas in fandom, and viewed as extremist attempts to muzzle free speech. Pornography in slides was a regular feature at many conferences in these areas, as were physical and sexual assault. Most open tech/culture communities didn’t have an understanding of basic feminist concepts like consent, tone policing, and intersectional oppression.”

The Ada Initiative began by trying to change the world for women in STEM and tech. They stopped, but not without having made change, and not without leaving a permanent legacy. You’ll see tributes and comments below to testify to this, but you’ll also see links to some of the content they made open source and Creative Commons in order to help perpetuate their work, as well as work from some of their partners who carry on the good message and work. By the way, their open source toolkits are absolutely incredible and well worth downloading.

HOWTO design a code of conduct for your community
Code of conduct evaluations

Announcing the ADA Camp Toolkit:

ADACamp Toolkit:
– Inclusive event catering:
– Providing conference childcare:
– Quiet room:
– Supporting d/Deaf and hard of hearing people at an unconference:

Eszter Hargittai on Essential Tech Skills (#mlanet15)

Part 5 of a series of blogposts I wrote for the recent Annual Meeting of the Medical Library Association.

Eszter Hargittai #MLAnet15

Is the Internet good or bad? Safe or dangerous? The answer from Eszter Hargittai at the MLAnet15 Closing Plenary was, “It depends.” Even if I was tracking tech events at the conference, even if this topic wasn’t my own bread-&-butter, even though Natalie has already done an completely excellent blogpost about this session, I would (and do!) still want to blog on this.

“It depends,” is the correct answer to most debates about anything to do with the Internet. Eszter Hargittai has hard data, and strong methodologies behind it, to show that most of our stereotypes about Internet use, audiences, abilities, etc. are considerably more subtle, nuanced, granular, and shaded than commonly believed.

Eszter Hargittai #MLAnet15

In her research, there were a surprising or worrying number of students who were unable to distinguish phishing URLs from real URLs, to define fundamental Internet jargon terms, to determine accurate versus biased news, to leverage social sharing appropriately for employment, to find accurate and useful health information for common search topics, and more. She described impacts of lower socioeconomic status, gender differences that carry over to online environment, and importantly reframed the “digital divide” as “digital inequalities.” The example which most impressed me related to emergency contraception use. I suspect I’m not the only medical librarian who’s been approached by friends or neighbors with questions related to this topic. In Dr. Hargittai’s sample, a full third were unable to discover that it was possible to buy this over the counter at your neighborhood drug store. And that doesn’t even touch on the question of the other two thirds who do know how to find and purchase it, but do they know how to use it appropriately and safely in the context of their own health history?

Eszter Hargittai #MLAnet15

The Internet can empower as much as it can endanger. What makes the difference? Hargittai says skills.

Eszter Hargittai #MLAnet15

And the skills that are needed are ones that can largely be taught and learned. Librarians are people who generally (“It depends”, remember?) have both the needed skills and know how to teach them. This was a talk that the librarians who attended are still talking about, and I suspect that will continue in months to come.

You can explore the Storify, and its over 300 tweets to see what else people had to say about the talk.


GPII Introductory Video

We all use technology every day. Well, people reading this blog, anyway. We use it, and everywhere we go, we either carry our own devices or spend time fiddling and fussing to make it work right. Or both. So, … have you heard about GPII?

Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII):

It gives me goosebumps, it really does. I’ve been hearing about this via Jane Vincent, author of “Making the Library Accessible to All” and a colleague here at the University of Michigan. Jane has been working on this project for a long time, before she came here. We are so very lucky to have her here and be informed literally at the ground level as this evolves. So what is it? What does “Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure” actually MEAN? It is the ultimate (for now) in portable technology personalization. Basically, how do you prefer to set up your computer? Now, code that into a little snippet, kind of like a credit card, and you take that with you wherever you go. Want to use a computer? Wave your magic card, and voilà! It’s set up just the way you like it.

I am, of course, oversimplifying, so here is a video introduction, and a video demo. Watch them both, and see if they don’t give you goosebumps, too!

Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII) w/captions and description:

Human Rights Museum Demo Instructions:

A big part of what I like about it is the community behind the idea and the process. Here’s a grateful nod to the following engaged and supporting organizations.

Cloud 4 All
FLOE Project
FLUID Project (which is worth an entire blogpost on their own!)
Prosperity 4 All
Raising the Floor
TRACE Center, University of Wisconsin

Personalized Medicine, Biosensors, Mobile Medical Apps, and More

At the Quantified Self Meetup, someone was praising the Rock Health slides. Of course, I had to go explore and see what was so great. These are my favorites.

About FDA’s Guidance for Mobile Medical Apps

FDA 101: A guide to the FDA for digital health entrepreneurs by @Rock_Health:

I especially took note of slide 10, where they describe things I would think of as an app, but which do not qualify as such for FDA regulation. This is an important distinction I hadn’t previously considered. Slide 12 takes it further by describing the categories of regulation as based on risk to patients, with good clear examples. Slie 21 on “pro tips” would have really benefitted companies like 23andMe (even though that isn’t actually a mobile medical app, the pro tips still apply, and in spades).

Biosensing Wearable Tech

The Future of Biosensing Wearables by @Rock_Health

This one definitely gets into topics relevant to the quantified self movement and self-tracking. Slide six emphasizes the shift from the low hanging fruit (fitness, pulse, sleep) to the long tail — more targeted solutions for specific challenges (hydration, glucose, salinity, skin conductance, posture, oxygenation, heart rhythm, respiration, eyetracking, brain activity, etc.). That’s really quite interesting, and it gives examples of companies working in each space.

Slides 19-24 get into several of the areas our own local meetup defined as challenges to success for companies working in this space and for the future success of the entire area — it has to work, easily, and dependably. Slides 27-30 extrapolate these challenges into the transition into healthcare environments.

Personalized Medicine

The Future of Personalized Health Care: Predictive Analytics by @Rock_Health Video



It’s probably safe to say that most individuals working in the quantified self / self-tracking space eventually end up struggling with the issue of how to use their data to anticipate avoidable problems. This idea can be translated into the jargon phrase of “predictive analytics.” Slide 11 does a nice job of lining this up with how traditional healthcare is practiced, which is very useful. Slide 12 places this in the context of big data resources, databases, and tools, listing several of the main players. This context is essential for making personal data relevant beyond the drawn out process of n=1 studies. Slide 14 identifies the BIG problem of how companies working in this space largely focus on hospitals and health care providers, and seem to have entirely missed the idea that patients are deeply and actively engaged in this space. And, frankly, there are more of us than them (even if our pockets aren’t as deep). I love the phrase on slide 18, “Symptom calculators are the “recommendation engines” of health care.” Most of the rest of the deck identifies challenges and opportunities, which I hope any entrepreneurial types would examine closely. Do notice that there is a video with this one. You can hear the entire webinar as well as reviewing the slides.

Big Beautiful Questions (A HOTW post from #hcldr)

Guy with questions 8

The other blog for which I was writing the “Hashtag of the Week (HOTW)” posts has changed focus, so I am no longer doing them weekly, but I am still doing them when available time and something amazing both intersect. The something amazing part happens ALL THE TIME, and if that was the only factor, I could do these daily! But this time, the conversation was so relevant and useful that I would feel like I wasn’t doing my job if I didn’t share it.

Yesterday evening, the Healthcare Leadership group had a conversation about the role of questions and questioning in healthcare. The conversation was lead by Bernadette Keefe, MD, and was triggered by Warren Berger’s work in the area of “beautiful questions.” He wrote a book, but you can find a short intro to the core ideas in his New Year’s article, “Forget Resolutions.” To help people ask better questions, more answerable questions, questions that have a higher potential for leading to positive change in their life, Bernadette pointed out the tips from the “Right Question Institute“, and I pointed out the “Question Prompts List” strategy.

Right Question Institute Question Prompt Lists

The real value of the #hcldr conversation, however, came from the questions. The questions posed for the group, and the questions posted as answers. My favorite of the questions posed was, “What are we not asking?” Keep that in mind as you read the following selections from the questions given as answers to the prompts.

T1 In our sizable efforts to make healthcare more efficient, accurate and safe,as well as less costly, what are the questions weʼre not asking?

T2 As you experience healthcare delivery today – is questioning valued?

T3 What are questions you, personally, would like to ask of your healthcare provider, medical insurance company, or hospital?

T4 How could the value of questioning be incorporated into healthcare delivery in an efficient and effective way? Programs etc?

Closing Thoughts

Fair Use & Figures: When Is It OK? (Part Two: Fair Use)

Fair Use?

Point 2: Is it fair use?

In part one of this post on using research tables and figures in social media, the focus was on, “Let’s find something that isn’t copyrighted, and just use that, because we know that will be safe” (sort of). But sometimes what you want is new, not old, and from a copyrighted publication, not something open access. When that happens, what do you do? Can you still use it?

It started with Andrew’s question, but he sure isn’t the only person asking!

The answer is (again) it depends. And, to be honest about it, the “it depends” is a whole lot messier. The idea of “fair use” makes the idea of “copyright” look like child’s play. As usual, I am not a lawyer (IANAL), so take the information here at your own peril, and don’t go quoting me to your own lawyers. That said, I’ll be giving references to a lot of information that IS from lawyers, so refer people to the original sources whenever possible!

This is a question that comes up a lot. Even more often, I suspect, it doesn’t come up at all when it ought to, because someone assumed it was alright and didn’t think about it more deeply. I may have even done that myself (and I’m afraid to go back and look too closely at my blogposts).


The shortest version I’ve found explaining why “fair use” for research figures from articles are DIFFERENT from other images is this snippet from Scholarly Publishing @ MIT Libraries:

“Note: an image or figure would commonly be considered a work in and of itself, weighing against fair use; or could summarize the key point of an article, also weighing against fair use.” Reuse of figures, images, and other content in theses

That’s the gist of it. Applying “fair use” to reusing content from a larger work depends on four factors:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
US Copyright Office: Copyright: Fair Use:

The point from MIT regards the 3rd factor, “amount and substantiality.” If the image is considered a work independent of the article, then copying it is copying a complete work instead of a percentage, and that is not OK. If the figure is considered a fair distillation of the complete article, then that could be considered equivalent to copying the whole article. To be allowed to use something under “Fair Use” claims, it is recommended to meet all FOUR of the four factors: no money, factual or data-focused content, a tiny bit of it (insignificant amount), and little to no impact on sales of the original. If any of those are iffy, you’ve got a problem.

In a recently published article in the research journal CIRCULATION, the editors of the journal attempted a randomized controlled trial to test the success or failure of social media in promoting readership of articles. How did they do this? Well, they posted randomly selected articles to Facebook and Twitter, but a bit part of how they posted included (you guessed it!) FIGURES. For exactly the same reasons we are NOT supposed to use them, technically speaking.

“However, our social media postings were comprehensive in that they focused on the main message of the article and included a key figure from the article. Thus, it is possible that social media users did not find it necessary to access the full article and therefore experienced increased awareness of the article but not online access of the primary source. This raises the possible concern that social media could reduce the potential reach of original published research as demonstrated by altmetrics.” Fox CS, Bonaca MA, Ryan JJ, Massaro JM, Barry K, Loscalzo J. A Randomized Trial of Social Media From Circulation. Circulation 2015; 131: 28-33.

In that test, it was the editors of the journal posting the figures, and even then, they questioned the utility and benefit. A big part of the question, which they highlight in that snippet, was whether it is better to have awareness of the article and its findings, or actual readers. This assumes that people who click through to the article actually read it, which is itself questionable.

So, that’s the short view. Just to round it out, here are a few more pieces relating to this topic.


A common recommendation is to redraw the figure. Annoying, time-consuming, but supposedly legal, most of the time, as long as the content is primarily data (since data can’t be copyrighted). Indeed, this is recommended by many experts as THE solution to this problem.

Q: I want to use a figure from another thesis or dissertation from my group. Do I need to ask permission?
A: “Usually. The student who wrote the thesis or dissertation owns the copyright and must be asked for permission. Figures are generally considered works in and of themselves and do not usually constitute a small portion of the work. See “How to Use Copyrighted Materials” for more information. If, however, the figure is a simple representation of data, you may not need permission. Data cannot be copyrighted, so non-creative ways of representing the data are generally considered fair use.” Copyright Frequently Asked Questions | Michigan Tech Graduate School

It depends on who you ask, though. I don’t know the court law on this, but I’ve found recommendations on both sides. Overwhelmingly, what I’ve found it people recommending to redraw the figure. And then I found this, from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

“Redrawing a figure does not change the Fair Use analysis; the figure cannot be used without permission just because it is redrawn.” ACM Guidance for Authors on Fair Use


Another common approach (probably the one I am most guilty of myself) is to assume that you aren’t important enough to bother with, or that no one will notice you did it, or that if they do notice all that will happen is they ask you to take it out. I haven’t even attempted to figure out how often this happens. The gist of the idea is that, while it may not be strictly legal, it IS fairly common practice, and can be a win-win for each side (as long as you are saying nice things, anyway).

The “Win-Win” Argument:

“Most authors will probably be happy that their results are disseminated, and reuse is likely to lead to more people reading the full paper and citing the work.”
Martin Fenner. Why can’t I reuse these tables and figures? Gobbledygook (PLoS Blogs) 2010.

The “Standard Practice” Argument:

“Posting figures from papers “was something we all did, all the science blogs, and I had been doing it since I started the blog. I always thought I was doing a public service, I wasn’t plagiarizing or claiming it was my own data.”” Andrea Gawrylewski. For blogger: A threat, then an apology. The Scientist May 2, 2007.–A-threat–then-an-apology/

So, it’s fine, right? Uh, not so much. If you are doing this on a work related blog or for your organization, it is awfully risky, since they can be held liable, which is a real can of worms. If you are only doing this on your personal blog, and it is made clear that these are your words and actions and not to reflect on your employer, … it’s your decision.


There are publishers who have (or will) pull out the big guns. Yes, usually, even if they notice, they’ll just ask you to take it down, to “cease and desist,” but there is no guarantee. The best known case in science blogging of use of a figure gone wrong actually centered around a PhD student here at the University of Michigan, Shelley Batts, back in 2007.

“When Shelley Batts wrote up a report on an article about antioxidants in fruits, she never expected to get contacted by the copyright police, but that’s exactly what happened.” Munger, Dave. Is reprinting a figure fair use?

In Shelley’s words:

“In short, I was threatened with legal action if I didn’t take it down immediately. I used a panel a figure, and a chart, from over 10+ figures in the paper. I cited and reported everything straight forwardly. I would think they’d be happy to get the press. But alas, no.” Batts, Shelley. When Fair Use Isn’t Fair.

The blogosphere went WILD. Some of the issues brought up included that this was government funded research paid for by taxes; the “amount used” argument (since it was such a small fraction, not even a complete image); the stifling impact on science discourse; the chilling of public awareness and policy discussions; and heavily, the critical distinction between “fair use” and being granted permission.

“First, the blogger Batts did not go through the usual process to request permissions to use published material in advance. It is not clear that had this been done that she would have been refused and indeed permission may eventually be extended. … Of course, once the appropriately senior person at Wiley was involved, the situation was resolved. This is not a “win”. This is a “loss” …” DrugMonkey. “This figure is reproduced with permission of the publisher.”

It is easy to find posts about this, but the one that seems to have really tipped the balance was when BoingBoing stepped in.

“This is, of course, bullshit. Reproducing part of a figure in a critical, scholarly essay is so obviously fair use that it hardly bears discussion. Wiley’s lawyers know this. You and I know it too.” Doctorow, Cory. Wiley threatens scientists with copyright law – UPDATED.

Eventually, it all calmed down, when Shelley was “granted permission” to use the image by the publisher. Many expressed concern that this ended up muddying the waters, that this was and should have been respected as fair use, that the publisher should have acknowledged this was fair use, and that granting permission implies that permission was theirs to grant (permission that is irrelevant in the case of fair use). Shelley was happy – she wasn’t getting sued, and her original blogpost was able to stay (although I can’t find it now, and I don’t know why).

“I was so surprised that anyone would think I was doing science a disservice. Science blogs bring pedantic ‘ivory tower’ knowledge to a completely new audience that would probably never hear about it otherwise. But in the end, I’m glad it happened — and that the entire blogosphere howled.”
Moments in Medicine at Michigan, Summer 2007.

But the University of Michigan lawyers stated that she had done nothing wrong to begin with. So. Clear as mud, eh?

“Maybe if we weren’t so worried about copyright, we’d be able to report on more research.” Dave Munger, op cit.

Fair Use & Figures: When Is It OK? (Part One: Copyright)

Last week I spent some time in conversations that began with Andrew Maynard’s posting a question to Twitter: “When is it OK to post a figure from a paper in a blog post?”

There were a lot of interesting thoughts and responses (before the conversation detoured off into mac’n’cheese and samurai swords). Things along the lines of, “What!? You mean research figures are different from pictures?” and “Isn’t it OK if you give a citation?” and “Well, my journal won’t allow it, but maybe some others do.” And what did the answer turn out to be? “It depends.” Isn’t that the truth – intellectual property issues always seems to depend on a variety of factors and situations. But answers to the various responses and questions were also sometimes not what was expected.

Does giving a citation to the source make it ok to share? Turns out it is irrelevant, in the sense of what is required legally, although it is expected as part of being active in scholarly culture as a matter of courtesy.

Now, more about posting research figures in blogs. I found quite a lot of information online to help explain part of how this works (or doesn’t). I’ll include small quotations that I found particularly helpful in understanding this better. Please not, IANAL (“I Am Not A Lawyer”!), so hopefully someone with more legal experience will contribute thoughts in the comments or will reply in another post.


The absolutely most helpful piece I found was from MIT Libraries.

MIT Libraries, Scholarly Publishing: Reuse of figures, images, and other content in theses

Please note, this is describing rights to re-use content in THESES, not blogposts, so it might be a little different. The MIT resource emphasized two main points (copyright, and fair use), with a pointed twist (oops, figures ARE different!).

Point 1: Is it copyrighted?

You see, if it isn’t copyrighted, if an image is in the public domain, you don’t have a problem — it is content you can use. That is more likely to apply to items that are quite old, or created by government employees in the performance of their job. But copyright gets complicated. What if the journal is from Australia instead of the United States? Whether or not a piece is copyrighted may change based on the country in which it was created.

Even if it is copyrighted, if it is licensed for open use, you are fine. Probably. OK, I’m going to show an image here that ought to be OK, and hope it really is. This stuff is tricky. If someone complains, I’ll blur out whatever part they are concerned about.

PubMed Example of Research Figure Searching & Display (Neuroinflammation Imaging) PubMed screenshot of:
Benjamin Pulli and John W Chen. Imaging Neuroinflammation – from Bench to Bedside. J Clin Cell Immunol. Author manuscript; available in PMC Dec 16, 2014. Published in final edited form as: J Clin Cell Immunol. 2014; 5: 226.

This is a screenshot from PubMed. PubMed is an open database developed and created by the US government. I had talked with our lawyers about using screenshots from databases in teaching and blogging about database interfaces. I was told (off the record) that it was probably OK to use the screenshots without asking for permissions as part of fair use. The idea was that even if the database legally has copyright protection for their user interface design (as they most assuredly do), that I am teaching and blogging about it is unlikely to impact on their sales negatively, which is one of the markers of “Fair Use” assessment. Chances are, if anything, my teaching and blogging about their database would serve as free advertising, increasing awareness and profits rather than reducing them. That assumes, of course, that I am saying good things about them. So, maybe it would be a different matter and not fair use if I was criticizing the database?

PubMed does this nifty thing where you can find images of research figures in the citations, if the original source is an article in PubMed Central, an extension of PubMed’s database that includes open access articles deposited by the publishers. (More info here about how they are different.) For the images displayed as thumbnails in PubMed, if you mouse over them, they get big and beautiful. This is what I’m showing in this screenshot.

This screenshot is of a citation record for an article that is open access and published in PubMed Central. Does the copyright permissions for screenshots in PubMed extend to the content? That this article is open access would mean that the article is copyrighted, but open for people who want to read it, and also available to re-use under specific guidelines. The guidelines given for the article are, “This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.” By the rules, I need to include a full citation with the image. I have done so, both in Flickr, where I put the screenshot, and here in the blogpost. BUT.

PubMed Example of Research Figure Searching & Display (Neuroinflammation Imaging) 2

BUT. But what? But this figure from the open access research article says that a portion of the image was modified from another source, WITH PERMISSION. Does that permission extend to me, since it was in an open access journal? I’m not sure. I’m not sure if I need to get two sets of permission to use this image, or none. Do I need to go back to the original authors of that portion and request permission myself? Do I need to blur out that portion of the image? Or did the process of these authors getting permission to use in an open access journal publication cover subsequent re-use? Do I need to check the policies for the journal where the source image was published? It’s … complicated.

For me, today, I’m electing to go ahead and use the image, trusting and hoping that the permissions cover this use. If someone complains, I will go back and blur out that portion of the image, and then replace it.

Many publishers have processes by which they establish policies that guide whether or not they give permission easily or if you have to jump through hoops or purchase permission. If you want to find out what the policies are for a journal with a figure you’d like to use, the place to check is SHERPA. If you want to know if a journal is open access, the you may want to check the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals).

SHERPA/RoMEO – Publisher copyright policies & self-archiving


Part Two will look more deeply at the idea of Fair Use in using research figures. That’s where it gets really interesting, so stay tuned! For now, I hope you have a better sense of the two-pronged sword of copyright in using research figures:

– Yes, it’s OK to use research figures that are copyright-free, public domain, or open access;
– BUT, sometimes those categories are less than straightforward.