Saturday, May 19, 2007

EoL in the blogsphere

postgenomic is a great way to keep up with science blogs. For example, searching for encyclopedia of life pulls up all sorts of interesting posts. A sampling:

Island of doubt
There is simply no way around this taxonomic deficit. While the EOL won't by itself answer too many questions, by drawing attention to how much work remains before we begin to get a grip on the ecosystems we are already manipulating beyond recognition, maybe, just maybe, we can re-distribute some of our research resources to that less glamorous pursuit known an inventory control.

PRO: Jonathan Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation. This is certainly going to advance the science of identification, and the science behind biodiversity.
CON: Dan Graur, a University of Houston professor of biology. I'm skeptical. Some of this knowledge goes back to the 18th century. It's all very nice, but this is not a scientific endeavor, it's an editorial effort. I'm a scientist, I like new knowledge.

My Biotech Life
That flash phylogenetic tree just blew my mind. And the level bar that hides/shows information depending your knowledge level, also cool!

I don't mean to sound so negative, since I think it's an eminently laudable goal, but I get very, very suspicious when I see all the initial efforts loaded towards building a pretty front end while the complicated core of the project is kept out of focus. I'd be more impressed with something like NCBI Entrez, which, while not as attractive as the EOL mockups, at least starts with the complicated business of integrating multiple databases. I want to see unlovely functionality first, before they try to entice me with a pretty face.

These are not the only blogs, and as always the comments left by others on these blogs is also fascinating. My sense is there is a "wow" factor based on the the publicity, coupled with not inconsiderable skepticism about content.

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