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Re: Nature: A call for a public gene Wiki

From: Matthew Cockerill <matt@biomedcentral.com>
Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 22:48:21 +0000
Message-Id: <86F02FED-1734-4680-8930-B8004F462DAE@biomedcentral.com>
Cc: public-semweb-lifesci@w3.org
To: Eric Jain <Eric.Jain@isb-sib.ch>

>> The problem with expecting people to update the core data is that  
>> this can be quite difficult, at least for anything beyond fixing  
>> spelling errors. Let's say you are looking at the page for some  
>> protein you are familiar with, e.g. http://expasy.org/uniprot/ 
>> P00750. You notice that something you know is missing (e.g.  
>> pathway). But before you can do anything, you need to know:
>> 1. Can this kind of data even be added?
>> 2. If yes, where does it go? What fields do I need to use?
>> 3. What conventions are there? Spelling, use of synonyms etc.

Again, important conceptual issues. But again, the proof of the  
pudding is in the eating.

It is, in many ways, bizarre and surprising, that the Linux kernel  
(say) or any other complex open source project finds a significant  
number of people who are motivated enough to learn enough to be able  
to contribute. But when you cast the net wide enough (by making it  
possible for *anyone* to contribute), it's amazing how many such  
people you do find.

In the case of Gene Function, it's even easier to comprehend. The  
hard-core user of Uniprot will have become deeply familiar with its  
conventions, tradeoffs and issues. They may well have an easier time  
identifying and fixing a problem (or adding new information) than a  
newly hired professional annotator.

I guess that's the other transformational aspect of wikis - by  
breaking down the strict separation between producer and consumer,  
wikis mean that "what's important to the consumer" feeds back much  
more efficiently and directly into the content creation process.

Received on Wednesday, 8 February 2006 22:48:28 UTC

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