Copyright©2009 Antony Williams
I’ve been in a discussion with Mat Todd for a while….Mat is involved with The Synaptic Leap and is a supporter of what we are trying to do with ChemSpider. What we have built is a platform where registered users can post there own structures, spectra, images and so on. We have a number of chemists contributing to the database and as a result there are synthesis protocols showing up on ChemSpider, new structures added regularly and NMR spectra specifically being added rather frequently. ChemSpider is growing as a result of community contributions and improving in quality as a result of community curation. But…we want even more participation…if possible.
Now, I rent my DVDs from Netflix and buy my books and electronics from Amazon. I read the reviews of other people who have purchased books, CDs, electronics and rented DVDs. I am influenced by the masses. Doh. Now…I will admit that I DON’T contribute to those reviews. I’ve never written about my favorite movies (but do score them). I dont’t review electronics or books but I do leave feedback on eBay. I judge I am like most other people. We have thousands of users per day that use ChemSpider now…the majority search, use and hopefully get value from our humble offering. Most people DON’T leave tracks…don’t add comments, don’t deposit data, don’t add information. Some of these people however do maintain their own blogs, they leave comments on other peoples blogs or happen across useful information. We want to know about interesting articles, blog posts, commentaries that might be of value to associate with structures on ChemSpider.
During a recent email exchange with Mat Todd we exchanged, at a very basic level, ideas about scraping information from sites and making available on ChemSpider rather than having people deposit the data. The question was how to automatically scrape appropriate data from blogs etc and maybe use tagging for some robot to locate the data and scrape and deposit. Theoretically yes, this would work. But, honestly I believe that developing some fancy technologies which might not bring benefit isn’t the way to go. Been there, done that. I realized there is a simpler way to do this AND, if there is a critical mass, then we will develop some fancy technologies (we’re good at that!)
So…welcome Google Alerts.
Google Alerts has been in beta for…hmmm…a while. Everyday I get alerts hitting my email about things I care about..it’s how I find out about the latest comments about ChemSpider on blogs that I don’t have listed in my reader. So, a simple alert on “loadtochemspider” has been set up. If anyone tags a blog, wiki, “something” with that tag then we will check it out and if it fits we will add it to ChemSpider. Simple technology…1 minute to set up. No massive technology development…just eyeballs and copy-paste.
So…let’s try it. If you see something of interest add loadtochemspider as a tag, into a comment, into the original post. Leave the rest to us…Stumble it!