User:Macowell/Making iGEM Better
Making iGEM Better
Get Online Early!
Have the dates for the team registration and jamboree online by the time of the previous Jamboree. Introduce it & the registration site during closing ceremonies. Later, reiterate it via mass emails and Invite everyone to a mailing list devoted to helping teams get started. Use that list.
Publish Clear Rules & Guidelines
Providing the rule framework early increases the number of teams that "get" what synthetic biology is and how we want them to be successful. Also, it reduces the likelihood of teams perceiving the rules to be arbitrary, dynamic, and unfair at the jamboree.
Get Big Funding
Other design competitions & conferences have huge sponsors. Why don't we? We can't make iGEM better without more excellent people, and for that, we need funding. Desperately. Ideas: Sponsor booths at the Jamboree career fair. University Recruiting booths. Free advertising in Nature, Science, other industry journals, etc. Logos everywhere. Grab bags and schwag. Sponsored resources, like the DNA synthesis & mathworks deals.
Amplify the sense of community
Make team activity, especially in the beginning of the year, visible to the rest of the community! (Automatically put a potential team's name and icon on the front page as teams register their interest). Establish a mailing list and auto-add all participants to it. Have a few people dedicated to doing outreach to new teams, welcoming them to the community and helping them get on their feet. Make iGEM's snowball effect visible. Demonstrate that it's OK for teams to ask questions and talk to one another.
Publish Promotional Material
Provide a kit of publicity materials to the teams to help them educate their potential members and funders. A brochure and posters would be great. They could point to more interactive material (videos & a showcase of the most successful iGEM teams) online.
Use the Pamphlet, website, and the existing community (refer a school!) to recruit more schools for iGEM. I'm convinced we could have easily had more than 100 teams in 2008 if we had done this. In Appendix A is a list of candidate schools. Thanks to Meagan & TK for their suggestions.
Explain Synthetic Biology
Many teams still come to the Jamboree without a clue about the hardcore kind of Synthetic Biology that Tom & Drew & Randy & most members of SynBerc talk about - making biology easier to engineer by focusing on applying engineering principles like modularity, abstraction, and insulation. We need to do a better job helping the teams understand.
Institute a Part Review Process
The ultimate success of iGEM and SB as a whole depends on quality parts that can be used for engineering. So let's help our iGEM teams make better parts & devices. At a minimum all parts need to have been documented well enough for another user to understand why the entry in the registry exists, so there should at least be some kind of documentation validity check on incoming parts. Like PLoS one. Perhaps tie completing part of it to the Judging.
Develop a Dynamic Website
It's gotten way too hard to represent the colossal accomplishment of iGEM each year online by hand-coded html and wikimarkup. We could make everything better by imposing structure on teams and our own content (videos, results, documentation). It should be obvious and easy to scan through a list of all the team's abstracts, watch videos of their work, go directly to their wiki documentation, see what parts they are working on, see who won last year and for what parts, see where most teams are having problems, etc.
Integrate with OpenWetWare
OpenWetWare is an online platform that is always going to be better at solving the digital lab notebook problem than we are. They are dedicated it to it, with a full-time staff and active community developing solutions all the time. We should work our branding & control issues out with them immediately and start collaborating. OWW should be the official digital lab notebook host for iGEM teams.
Develop a Publishing Pipeline
Citations are the currency of science. Many iGEM teams do extraordinary Synthetic Biology work that really deserves to be published. We should help, both for the sake of the teams and for the sake of adding to the field of SB.