Thursday, December 18, 2008


Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm -- Winston Churchill
I learnt today that my Elsevier Challenge entry didn't make the final cut. This wasn't unexpected. In the interests of "open science" (blame Paulo Nuin) here is the feedback I received from the judges:

Beautiful presentation, lovely website. Page clearly made his case for open access to metadata/full articles in order to allow communities to build the tools they want. The judges would have enjoyed seeing more elements from the original abstract (tree of life). Great contribution so far to the discussion; Page made his point very well.

Given that no specific tool was proposed, this submission is somewhat out of scope for the competition. Nonetheless, in support of his point, Page could have elaborated on the kinds of open formats and standards for text and data and figures that would support integrated community-wide tool-building. Alternatively, if the framework and the displayed functionalities were to be the submission, there could have been more discussion of how others can integrate their plug-ins and make them cross-referential to the plug-ins of others. The proposal for Linked Data should utilize Semantic Web standards

Elements to Consider for Development
How many, and which types of, information substrates? How much work for a new developer to create a new one, and to make this work? How to incentivize authors to produce the required metadata? Or to make the data formats uniform?
I think this is a pretty fair evaluation of my entry. I was making a case for what could be done, rather than providing a specific bit of kit that could make this happen right now. I think I was also a little guilty of not following the "underpromise but overdeliver" mantra. My original proposal included harvesting phylogenies from images, and that proved too difficult to do in the time available. I don't think having trees would have ultimately changed the result (i.e., not making the cut), but it would have been cool to have them.

Anyway, time to stomp around the house a bit, and be generally grumpy towards innocent children and pets. Congratulations to the bastards fellow contestants who made it to the next round.


Javier de la Torre said...

Ouhh pitty. In any case to make you feel better your posts about these things had inspired me lot of great ideas that I am planning to go for. So I am very happy you got into this and want to congratulate you, for me make the final cut :)

Keep going!

Alberto Labarga said...

We did not make it either :(

This was our proposal.

I really liked yours. You have always pushed for public availability of data and information which is a must for any other work we may try, and have given example on how to be an "open scientist", so thanks for that, and keep the god work!

BTW, your presentation is excelent!!

Rovellotti said...

ah well .. its xmast anyway.. don't be too mean to little children