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Web frameworks (Ruby on Rails, Django, Google App Engine) are increasingly popular tools to build websites. Many websites use these tools to build social networks. In science, many developers are concentrating on what has become termed (disparagingly) "Facebook for scientists". Whilst these sites can help scientists find one another and communicate, they do not (in my opinion) contribute very much to the business of doing science.

Social as in data, not social as in people

What I would like to see is less emphasis on social as in gossip and more emphasis on social as in data. By which I mean: beautifully-designed, aesthetically-pleasing, simple interfaces that allow users to:

With all the Web 2.0 whistles and bells that we've come to expect: tagging, RSS feeds and a smattering of AJAX where appropriate.

Project Ideas


The research world is crying out for a free, open-source, full-featured Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) suited to the needs of small-medium labs engaged in mostly molecular biology techniques. Better still: make it social. Get your floor/department/faculty to sign up and eliminate those "does anyone have a few grams of..." emails cluttering our inboxes. It needs to handle data such as:

Structural genomics

Every SG project seems to have its own data management solution. We need a generic, modular application to handle the type of workflow generated by small-medium SG projects:

Geodata, biology and the Google Maps API

Geotagged data is (slowly) on the rise in biology. It's always been more prevalent in areas such as ecology, conservation and environmental science but is also appearing in e.g. GSS nucleotide records from metagenome projects.

Can we devise new and useful ways to visualise these data from a "geocentric" viewpoint? Imagine a Google Maps interface to subsections of NCBI Entrez, for example?

The Wiki as software platform

In this FriendFeed conversation, we touch on the use of wikis as development environments, using extensions and plugins such as customised forms.