Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Darwin meets Facebook: Social networking tool lets natural historians share data

Date:
November 12, 2009
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
Natural history plans to chart life on earth, yet the discipline risks being buried under a landslide of painstakingly collected data that isn't always used. Now researchers at London's Natural History Museum have created a social networking tool called "Scratchpads" where natural historians can get together and share their data.

Natural history plans to chart life on earth, yet the discipline risks being buried under a landslide of painstakingly collected data that isn't always used. Now researchers at London's Natural History Museum have created a social networking tool called 'Scratchpads' where natural historians can get together and share their data.

A paper on this new platform features in a supplement on biodiversity informatics published in the open access journal, BMC Bioinformatics.

Vincent Smith, Simon Rycroft, David Roberts and colleagues created the data-publishing framework for groups of people to create their own natural history-based social networks. Users create a virtual workbench to study aspects of an organism much as Darwin did during his lifetime, and anyone can get involved. To date the system serves over 1100 registered users across 100 sites, spanning academic, amateur and citizen-science audiences. Users have generated over 130,000 content nodes in the first two years.

The Scratchpads article is among nine articles chosen for publication in the BMC Bioinformatics supplement that highlight a range of recent advancements from general biodiversity information management to DNA Barcoding. "Scratchpads is emblematic of the kinds of biodiversity informatics approaches that are being developed to help better meet the timeless and ever-growing challenges of biological data curation," says Neil Sarkar (editor of the BMC Bioinformatics biodiversity informatics supplement and Assistant Professor and Director of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Vermont in the USA).

The Scratchpads infrastructure combines databases, network protocols and computational services to bring people, information and computational tools together to perform and publish natural history. Specialist sites on fish, amphibians, trees and so on do exist. But natural history is known for its diverse approaches and researchers with widely differing views and contexts. Electronic data systems tend to offer just one way to represent data, which can alienate many potential contributors. In Scratchpads, the user-created workbenches mean that natural historians can gather, organise and share their data themselves, for example picking their own biological classification systems and incorporating data from other platforms such as Encyclopaedia of Life.

"Our goal was to build a system that could motivate individual researchers in the generation, management and dissemination of their own data for their own needs, while empowering a wider constituent of potential users who are free to repurpose this information for other uses," says Vincent Smith.

The researchers hope Scratchpads will prevent natural history data from being marginalized in the "electronic ghetto" of publishers' websites, or worse still never being published at all. Making better connections between these data also stands to boost natural history's image in the wider scientific community. The service may also provide a template for use in other disciplines too.

The scratchpads social networking tool can be found here: http://scratchpads.eu/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vincent S Smith, Simon D Rycroft, Kehan T Harman, Ben Scott and David Roberts. Scratchpads: a data-publishing framework to build, share and manage information on the diversity of life. BMC Bioinformatics, 2009, 10 (Suppl 14): S6 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2105-10-S14-S6

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Darwin meets Facebook: Social networking tool lets natural historians share data." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110065917.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2009, November 12). Darwin meets Facebook: Social networking tool lets natural historians share data. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110065917.htm
BioMed Central. "Darwin meets Facebook: Social networking tool lets natural historians share data." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091110065917.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Apple released a security fix for the "Shellshock" vulnerability Monday, though it says only "advanced UNIX users" of OS X need it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Facebook Ad Platform Goes Where You Go On The Web

New Facebook Ad Platform Goes Where You Go On The Web

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Called Atlas, the platform allows advertisers to place ads based on Facebook info on sites outside of Facebook. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) Phonemakers who want to use Google’s software in their devices will have to stick to more stringent requirements. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins