2009.10.23: This Week In Bioinformatics

This Week in Bioinformatics is a weekly snapshot of select developments, interesting tweets, and influential blog posts pertaining to biological databases, data visualization, and funding.


A “Facebook” for scientists nets $12.2M in funding
Network World reports that Cornell, the University of Florida, and a number of other institutions received $12.2M USD to create a social networking site for scientists. It remains to be seen how this endeavor will succeed while so many others have failed, or why this is even worth doing at a time when social networking sites from the private sector have already matured. Twitter, FaceBook, and FriendFeed, and Epernicus already have established communities of scientists. Moreover, the rise of do-it-yourself social networks like Ning make it easy for anyone to establish a social network.

I hope this project includes development of embeddable tools that can be used on other websites. These tools should also rely on things like FaceBook Connect, Google FriendConnect, and OpenID. If it’s just the creation of another social networking site — no matter how much it embraces the ideals of the semantic web — it won’t see significant uptake in the scientific community. It needs to be omnipresent across all various websites that scientists use on a daily basis.

See the related discussion on FriendFeed.

Link Love

Exploring My Genes
Grant Wood’s “Fantastic Voyage” blog, exploring his 23andMe genotyping results.

Geek Atlas
A guide to science hotspots around the global. A must for scientists who travel or travelers who science.

The role of social networking in biological databases

You’d have to be hiding under a rock to not know of social networking sites like FaceBook or MySpace.

But you might not be familiar with social networking tools like Ning which let anyone set up their own social network.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what role social networking might play in biological databases.

Can we use these tools to foster communication between researchers? What about using them to connect researchers collaborating on large projects who are geographically distributed?