- Eris — a platform which allows developers and users to deploy consensus driven applications which rely on decentralized architecture and a consensus driven blockchain database backend. Open source (modified MIT).
- The Disruption Machine (New Yorker) — long detailed critique of the “disruption” hypothesis of Clayton Christensen, particularly questioning the case studies cited in The Innovator’s Dilemma.
- Web Reputation Systems and the Real World (Randy Farmer) — Don’t cross the streams. Good digital reputations should always be context-limited: the nature of the inputs should constrain the use of the reputation scores that are output.
- Bill and Melinda Gates Commencement Speech (Quartz) — excellent urging to work on stuff that matters. The pessimists are wrong in my view, but they’re not crazy. If innovation is purely market- driven and we don’t focus it on the big inequities, then we could have amazing advances and inventions that leave the world even more divided.
How the field of genetics is using data within research and to evaluate researchers
Editor’s note: Earlier this week, Part 1 of this article described Sage Bionetworks, a recent Congress they held, and their way of promoting data sharing through a challenge.
Data sharing is not an unfamiliar practice in genetics. Plenty of cell lines and other data stores are publicly available from such places as the TCGA data set from the National Cancer Institute, Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), and Array Expression (all of which can be accessed through Synapse). So to some extent the current revolution in sharing lies not in the data itself but in critical related areas.
First, many of the data sets are weakened by metadata problems. A Sage programmer told me that the famous TCGA set is enormous but poorly curated. For instance, different data sets in TCGA may refer to the same drug by different names, generic versus brand name. Provenance–a clear description of how the data was collected and prepared for use–is also weak in TCGA.
In contrast, GEO records tend to contain good provenance information (see an example), but only as free-form text, which presents the same barriers to searching and aggregation as free-form text in medical records. Synapse is developing a structured format for presenting provenance based on the W3C’s PROV standard. One researcher told me this was the most promising contribution of Synapse toward the shared used of genetic information.
Physician/patient knowledge sharing site branches out into quality measures
HealthTap, a network of physicians and patients, routinely breaks new ground and tries bold experiments in the area of generating trust. I remember how, in my first posting about the company, I questioned whether the company could sign up both patients and doctors and extract the information it planned to offer. Its current network of more than 16,000 physicians vindicates CEO Ron Gutman.
HealthTap has always included a modest “Agree” button that lets a doctor approve of a particular posting by another doctor, but now the company is delving much deeper into the mission of externalizing information that has long remained hidden. They are conducting a series of initiatives to rate doctors. The one announced today, the Top Doctors competition openly asks doctors to rate each other. Every specialist has strong opinions about who is best in his or her field, and is willing to direct patients to the most respected colleagues, but never have they been asked to publicize their opinions.
Gutman is confident that this gambit will pay off. Doctors are naturally competitive, he says, and will sign up to rate one another. He is asking for extremely fine-grained ratings: not just for “best eye surgeon,” but for “best retinal surgeon.” This kind of detail matches the requests made by anxious patients.
Patients will also be able to rate their physician’s bedside manner. Such ratings are known to be very subjective and poorly correlated with clinical results, so the physician and patient ratings will be presented separately on HealthTap. Read more…
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