Do it yourself

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Have a problem: Build a web resource:
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Via a post on Hacker News I ran into the Tulane School of Medicine Student Portal.

As one of the developers writes on Hacker News

Our goal is ‘making med school easier, one less click at a time’. We have no business model, just trying to make our own lives easier.

There is further description on the site

Hello, and welcome to the Tulane University School of Medicine’s Student Portal! This website came into existence over the course of the latter part of the 2007-2008 school year through the hard and volunteered work of a group of students concerned with making the lives of TUSOM medical students a bit easier. Our university community is a dynamic place with much do, and many resources to use on a daily basis. In an effort to reduce the amount of time and energy required to accomplish these activities, we developed this site. Our work has been led, and graciously supported by the Medical Student Government, the Office of Medical education, and the Deans.

This site was developed by students, and for students. As such, if there is a feature that you feel would benefit the community as a whole, please feel free to drop us a line at We’ll take your suggestion into serious consideration, and see if it within our abilities to accomplish.

That’s the kind of initiative that one loves to see. With hosting cheap, good web frameworks and people increasingly looking to the web for information, not the last time you’ll see something like this either. The key is realizing that often, if you have a problem, you can solve it yourself, and relatively inexpensively. Sometimes you can build a business out of it, a la 37signals

They (or at least Niels Olson) have some pretty ambitious future plans as well.

Online tools are not only cheap, they are also mature enough that it no longer requires a CS degree and years of experience to put something together. Coupled with Open Source, an individual can create pretty complex sites.

A similar attitude is beginning to invade other areas, such as Biotech. So many of the support functions are now available from standalone companies (such as DNA synthesis, sequencing, etc.) that we are almost at the point of ‘garage biotech’, where a very substantial amount of work can be done through contract for much less cost that having to create the infrastructure yourself.

This will never be at the same level as IT sorts of processes but it can have a profound effect on the cost of doing the biotech business. Add in IT tools to facilitate rapid information dispersal and a small lab can accomplish things that required a much larger facility just 5 years ago.

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