July 1, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 13)
Strong Points: Clever approach to common problem
Weak Points: Success requires work from users
From Arizona State University comes the Collaborative Bio Curation (CBioC) project, which attempts to get a handle on the enormous volume of biomedical articles currently flooding the scientific community. Consider, for example, that from 1994–2004, almost 3,000,000 biomedical articles were published in the U.S. and Europe on top of the 15,000,000 articles already in PubMed. Managing this material is no small job, but that is what CBioC is aimed at doing—providing automated information extraction by a novel approach, mass collaboration. In this method, the community of researchers reading the material contributes to the curation process. This is a sort of a combination of a Wiki and an open-source blog, and it gets my thumbs up for its creative approach as well as a practical way to deal with a problem. As one might imagine, hiring curators is expensive, and automated approaches to curation are not yet perfect, so this may be the best way to handle the information deluge at the present time.