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A wiki for capturing and sharing biological knowledge

Reshma P. Shetty and Jeremy Muhlich


Much of the knowledge produced by biological research is passed down by oral tradition.

This makes it difficult for newcomers to enter the field.

Solution: OpenWetWare


OpenWetWare's contributions

  1. Easy and collaborative content generation
  2. Community discourse

Labs on OpenWetWare

Integrating OpenWetWare into research


Examining Communication

Ethnomethodology: A sociological discipline which focuses on the ways in which people make sense of their world, display this understanding to others, and produce the mutually shared social order in which they live. (Wikipedia)

Discourse Analysis

Dysfunctionality of Model Publishing

Image:Icbp-talk-pyramid.png figure: Ty Thomson

Systematization and Data Standards

  • Standards for models
    • MIRIAM - Minimum Information Requested in the Annotation of Biochemical Models
    • SBML - Systems Biology Markup Language
  • Communicating with computers, not people
  • Rigid, one-way "conversation"

Literate Programming

Donald Knuth, 1981

Write programs primarily for humans, not computers

Ty Thomson, MIT

Image:Yeastpheromonemodel home page.png

Image:Yeastpheromonemodel reaction page.png

80-20 Rule / Pareto Principle


How do we communicate the final 20% ?

  • Verbal, email, etc.
  • Wiki

Conversation is robust, and necessary anyway

Agile Informatics effort

Wiki-based model documentation

with Brian Joughin, MIT/ICBP

To be integrated into OWW

Part of a larger workflow:

"Living" Models

OpenWetWare's success

  • 2,800 contributors
  • 100 labs
  • 1.5 million pageviews per month
  • 275,000 sessions per month

Personal tools