The other day I was browsing through recently published papers in PLoS Biology and came across this one.
Field D, Amaral-Zettler L, Cochrane G, Cole JR, Dawyndt P, et al. 2011 The Genomic Standards Consortium. PLoS Biol 9(6): e1001088. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001088.I'm interested in this sort of thing since back in the olden days (1993) I spent a bit of time at GenBank exploring annotation issues with a view to correcting the growing number of errors that were being propagated in online databases.
A vast and rich body of information has grown up as a result of the world's enthusiasm for 'omics technologies. Finding ways to describe and make available this information that maximise its usefulness has become a major effort across the 'omics world. At the heart of this effort is the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC), an open-membership organization that drives community-based standardization activities, Here we provide a short history of the GSC, provide an overview of its range of current activities, and make a call for the scientific community to join forces to improve the quality and quantity of contextual information about our public collections of genomes, metagenomes, and marker gene sequences.
It's an insoluble problem and I doubt very much that a new organization is going to help.
But that's not what I want to talk about. Near the end of the article in PLoS Biology you find this paragraph.
The Internet has resulted in a Cambrian explosion of productivity and data sharing through the adoption of a huge stack of agreed-upon protocols (standards) that allow many devices and programs to communicate to the transformative benefit of the everyday user . Enabling access to user-generated content is key to harnessing the resources of a distributed community: Flickr has over 5 billion photographs uploaded, and Wikipedia has over 3.5 million English articles as of this writing. Standards for organizing sequence data will be similarly needed as sequencing instruments themselves, especially as these instruments are more and more commoditized and owned by individuals rather than institutions.I'm sad to find this sort of content-free language creeping into scientific journals. We've been spared up to now but it looks like the 23 scientists listed as authors feel comfortable with this new style of writing.