Talk:ICampus Application for OWW

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Name and email address of proposer

The proposer must be a registered MIT student (graduate or undergraduate). You must supply a valid email address that we can use to communicate with you. List only one address only. This person will be the point of contact for all communications about the proposal. This person also must be the person who mails in the proposal, with the correct FROM email address.

If others would like to take the lead, speak now. Right now there is an operating assumption that no one really wants to take the lead on this proposal.

  • I'm fine with dealing with it. -JK


What kinds of things are you requesting funding for (e.g., what equipment, UROP positions, other)?

  • I'm really not sure what money could be used for other than lots of advertising so people use OWW. --Austin Che
    • Well, we'll see. We can list things that we think could help drive usage of the wiki


Any other comments or questions.

  • What's the difference between student and faculty sponsored projects? I think faculty projects can get more money (not sure OWW needs it).
    • This is true. But it would be nice to be driven by the students, and, as you point out, we probably don't need too much money.

Project description

Please provide a brief (a few paragraphs at most) description of the proposed project.

  • We should decide here if we should focus on developing a tool for biological information... or a more general tool for the MIT community... what do people think?
  • OpenWetWare is a collaborative environment designed to promote the sharing of expertise, information and ideas among researchers in biological science and engineering. Inspired both by Wikipedia and MIT OpenCourseWare, OpenWetWare is a wiki which allows easy organization and editing of webpage content and linking between pages. It seeks to create a useful resource that relies on a community of users to keep the content accurate and up-to-date. We hope that OpenWetWare will foster enhanced collaboration among community members as well as provide a useful reference source for researchers around the world.
  • didn't look at above when i wrote this, could combine them probably... please comment and edit heavily - JK
  • OpenWetWare is an effort to democratize contribution to a commons of information related to academic research in biological science and engineering. At its most ambitious, OpenWetWare seeks to bring all academic researchers under one roof. By cultivating an online space where ideas, approaches, and resources can be freely exchanged we hope to break down barriers to collaboration that currently exist between institutions and labs. Additionally, we hope to encourage the transition from static to dynamic documents for conveying information in academics.
  • While we have begun to implement our own ideas around which we hope researchers will self-organize (e.g. protocols), OpenWetWare is inherently non-hierarchical and our group is just a single node in the network. We fully expect (and look forward to!) being supplanted by (coexisting with?) other researchers with different ideas for organizing the community in the future. In particular, the flexible nature of the wiki software enables future community members to re-organize dynamically around new trends and areas of research. Finally, as researchers from disparate fields increasingly consider biological problems we expect the role of OpenWetWare in collecting, organizing, and disseminating information to be ever more essential.


Old Intro

In the biological sciences, the primary mechanisms for sharing information have traditionally been reference books, journal publications and personal communications. These sources of information are static (updated based on a publishing cycle) and fractured (access to information is dependent on one's location via access to costly publications and the expertise of peers in adjoining labs). Such a system contrasts with the open source movement in computer science which relies heavily on the World Wide Web as a means for disseminating information as well as soliciting and organizing contributions. OpenWetWare is enabling similar collaboration for the biological science community. Even in its current early state, OpenWetWare has shown two significant contributions to scientific communication – a developing knowledge base and a collaborative research environment.

Old Stuff

Describe, as succinctly and as compellingly as you can, why you think this project is significant - from an educational perspective, a technical perspective, or other.

  • One thing that needs to be highlighted in our proposal is how radical the use of something like a wiki is to biological researchers. While in computer science, there are established traditions/examples for collaborative efforts (like the Free Software Foundation and GNU/Linux), no such movement exists in biology. In biology, expertise tends to be compartmentalized and passed on either in books/articles or by word of mouth. OpenWetWare offers a novel alternative approach. I haven't figured out how to best express these thoughts which is why I put this comment here rather than in the proposal itself.

Crappy paragraph that's been demoted to the discussion page:

  • In the biological sciences, the primary mechanisms for sharing information have traditionally been journal publications, reference books and personal communications. The success of a given experiment often depends on having access to the right expertise and equipment. Such a system can be contrasted with collaborative open source projects in computer science that use the World Wide Web as a means for soliciting and organizing contributions, and disseminating information. OpenWetWare has begun to fulfill that role for the biological sciences community. OpenWetWare (OWW) is based on WikiMedia software, which allows for all users to edit the content and organization of the site. Now including 17 laboratories at 7 universities, it has led to a series of important resources. One such resource is a collection scientific protocols which includes different variants of the same protocol, comments on their strengths and weaknesses, and descriptions of the protocol, and links to other related resources. OWW also contains information about the use and maintenance of laboratory equipment. An example of the usefulness of this is that a Google search for the Victor3 plate reader from Perkin Elmer returns OWW rather than the Perkin Elmer site as the top hit. Since all the pages on OWW are editable by all users, it also helps foster collaborations. By providing a common space for people to post information about their work, researchers can more easily keep apprised of work going on in other labs. Such a space increases the likelihood of collaboration and also provides a source for determining where certain expertise lies.


Who is your project advisor?

  • I nominate Drew if he is willing --Sri Kosuri 13:06, 8 Nov 2005 (EST)
  • Drew is willing but mentioned that he is already part of the iGem iCampus iGrant and he didn't know if that put us at a disadvatage. iImagine it might put us at an advatage assuming they like iGem. --JK