The Seven Stones

ISMB 2008: micro-blogging at its best

Probably like many others, I have often been puzzled by the phenomenon of ‘micro-blogging’, which consists in posting very short messages on the web (typically via sites such as Twitter) with the goal of providing an instantaneous description of the activity, state of mind or thoughts of the writer. The last few days, a small group of bloggers attending the ISMB 2008 Conference in Toronto used a form of collective micro-blogging on FriendFeed in an intensive way to cover many of the talks held at the conference.

Particularly interesting was the coverage of several keynote lectures, often commented simultaneously on a single ‘feed’ by several bloggers in the audience, providing so to say a real-time example of ‘crowdsourcing’. The result is a surprisingly useful set of notes, where the combined attention and complementary knowledge of the participants allow some gaps to be filled, provide additional information (including references or links) and follow the flow of the presentation as it unfolds. I provide below a few picks, relevant to systems biology, while the rest can be consulted (and, importantly, searched!) in the ISMB 2008 Room’ on FriendFeed. Good job & many thanks!


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    Neil said:

    Thanks for the mention! We were not sure ourselves how well FriendFeed would work for this task; I think we were all pleasantly surprised by the results. The microblogging made quite a splash at the meeting and there is even talk of integrating it into the ISMB website at next year’s meeting.

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    Roland Krause said:

    Just for myself: Commenting turned out to be a very fruitful and active note taking exercise, the result is far superior to previous years’ scribbles and I don’t think I ever followed so many sessions that closely. It also caters the desire to take part in the communication, particular if it is a good session. This form is obviously more productive than talking to your neighbor or passing notes around but it wasn’t all that obvious whether other people find it useful too.

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    Sneha Ravichandran said:

    I had indeed a very lovely time at ISMB 2008 . It was a beautiful exposure for me where i interacted with a lot of people from different countries. I had come there directly from INDIA. I found all the talks useful . I am pursuing my final year of engineering in bioinformatics , so some talks were difficult for me , but I did grasp so much from their talks. Overall i am nostalgic about the whole event and hope to see myself in the next ISMB also .

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