Scientists as cyborgs

Video @ the bench
[Vie Free Genes]

I saw the movie I Am Legend this weekend, and although it wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of synthetic biology (re-engineering measles is a bad idea, apparently) Will Smith’s character did have a slick lab in his basement. Good to see a little Garage Biotech in action.One component of the lab they made heavy use of was a video lab notebook. I assume this was done since Will Smith scribbling in a paper lab notebook wouldn’t have had quite the same cinematic effect. However, getting video into the lab will be important for democratizing biological engineering. A lot of the barriers to would be bio-hackers lay in the difficulty of learning biological protocols from texts. New graduate students benefit enormously from hands-on learning with a mentor in their early days in lab, and without this visual teaching getting booted up in the lab is extremely frustrating.

will.JPGNew science video sites like Jove and suffer because labs aren’t really equipped to capture video. So at best you’ll be able to disseminate talks, but video protocols are going to be very hard to pull off. I’ve been thinking about video lab notebooks / protocols since Tom Knight brought up some clever ways you might set your bench up to accommodate video capture (cameras in various spots, foot-petal control, and smart ways to handle the data). A more nerdy looking way to do this (no offense to Will Bosworth who used to work around the Endy Lab) is the head-mounted video camera described by Saul Griffith in Make magazine.

There are also some wireless web-cameras that might make your setup cheaper. If anyone is doing a good job of taking video at the bench, please let me know about your setup.

Video use in social media will be explosive when the tools get more mature. Will they be a major way that research is communicated? Maybe not always but I visited the Seattle Science Foundation last week and saw what medical theaters can do when hi-def video is built into the infrastructure. Almost everything can be transmitted/archived on video. How will things change when we really can archive everything?

Technorati Tags: ,


“fun, easy-to-use, collaborative applications” …in the workplace?:

Sarah Perez has written an excellent piece on the new trend of Technology Populism – where “more and more people are functioning as their own IT department at work.”

More than anything, IT Managers need to realize that the power of individuals to provision their own applications, information, and social networks is a trend that’s unlikely to stop. They can block sites on their firewall, but as users venture out on laptop computers beyond the company’s walls, those sites become accessible again.

It’s like a hydra – cut off one head, proverbially speaking, and three more will grow it its place. People will use what they want to use.

For an IT manager to successfully balance the risks and rewards of technology populism, they must first embrace the trend to move forward, then they must address their particular company’s exposure levels.

Some IT managers dig their heels in and refuse to embrace the new trend.

But I think that group is smaller than one would think. Many more IT managers try to address and manage exposure levels – but the problem is they jump right to that step without first putting out the message that they embrace the new trend, and I think that leads people to think they don’t.


Read the whole article. There is a nice graphic dealing with the percentage of companies planning on using social media. It appears that many companies will be using these technologies without even knowing it. They are just too easy for any employee to implement. The take home message – a company may feel that it knows what is happening but often it employees are using the new tools whether the company plans to or not. Better to grab the tiger’s tail and hope to keep up than to just close your eyes. Because, very often, that tiger takes you on a trip that adds real value to the organization.

Technorati Tags:

I missed the first 18!

by MuniMan

Bio::Blogs #18:

The 18th edition of Bio::Blogs can be read at Bioinformatics Zen. The main focus of this months’ edition is Open Science with many links to interesting new developments. In particular go have a look at this video that Michael Barton made about science and the web. Unless there are any other volunteers the 19th edition of Bio::Blogs will be hosted by me again at Public Rambling.

Bioinformatics and Open Science seem to be made for each other. There is a proposal to discuss Open Science at the Pacific Symposium of Biocomputing next year. I hope it gets accepted. I’d love a reason to go to Hawaii.

Additionally, the increasing use of these sorts of aggregations, also called Carnivals, is a very novel expansion of normal scientific tendencies. Each member of the community gets to host the Carnival, which is mostly made up of links to appropriate posts by other members. So, it is a great way for all the members of the community to get to know each other. It also allows new members to very quickly get up to speed with who does what in the community. Another example of how social media can speed up even internet time.


Technorati Tags:

Just what is Twitter

by CoreForce

CommonCraft does really excellent presentations and this is a great introduction to Twitter. I’d just have to get a lot better with my TXTing skills to use my phone, although you can use Twitter from the computer. The key, as with most Web 2.0 approaches, is the conversations that can occur. Twitter furthers an intense conversation between people separated in both space and time.

Twitter in Plain English

until we get Flash embeds working properly, you can see this at CommonCraft Twitter.