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Four short links: 9 December 2009

Bioinformatics Myths, Internet Policy, Archivist Tools, Life Visualisations

  1. The Mythology of Bioinformatics — worth reading this (reprinted from 2002!) separate of hype from history.
  2. Policy and Internet — new journal, with articles such as The Case Against Mass E-mails: Perverse Incentives and Low Quality Public Participation in U.S. Federal Rulemaking: This paper situates a close examination of the 1000 longest modified MoveOn.org-generated e-mails sent to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about its 2004 mercury rulemaking, in the broader context of online grassroots lobbying. The findings indicate that only a tiny portion of these public comments constitute potentially relevant new information for the EPA to consider. The vast majority of MoveOn comments are either exact duplicates of a two-sentence form letter, or they are variants of a small number of broad claims about the inadequacy of the proposed rule. This paper argues that norms, rules, and tools will emerge to deal with the burden imposed by these communications. More broadly, it raises doubts about the notion that online public participation is a harbinger of a more deliberative and democratic era. (via Jordan at InternetNZ)
  3. Xena — GPL-licensed Java software from National Archives of Australia, to detect the file formats of “digital objects” and then converting them into open formats for preservation.
  4. Nebul.us — startup that aggregates and visualises your online activity. In private beta, but there’s a screenshot and brief discussion on Flowing Data.
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  • Alex Tolley

    It’s interesting that only biology has a subdisciplinne of -informatics. There isn’t a physinformatics or even much of a cheminformatics or even a history-informatics in the humanities. Part of the reason for bioinformatics is that biologists generally are not educated well in math or computer science, so that it was inevitable that peole trained in these areas were needed as biology started to generate a lot of data, especially from sequencing and genomics studies. My guess is that the next generation of biologists will have the necessary skills and bioinformatics will fade away and just become biology again.