Do we need THREE genome newsgroups?

Thu Apr 8 22:43:04 EST 1993

	There has been quite a bit of discussion generated by the recent 
proposals to set up two new biosci groups, one dealing with the ACEDB 
database program, and one dealing with physical mapping and sequencing
issues associated with mammalian genome programs. There already is a genome
newsgroup (bionet.molbio.genome-program) which is an "NIH-sponsored
newsgroup on human genome issues." This existing group has very little
traffic on it. I strongly believe that there should be a forum to discuss
genome issues but there is a possibility that the groups could become too
fragmented to be useful. Three groups with overlapping charters would
result in a lot of cross-posting because people wouldn't be sure which
would target the correct audience. After sufficient cross-postings, people
without a lot of time will give up on them completely. This means senior
scientists, and senior scientists are exactly the people we need to attract
to the net, both to get their expertice, and so they will inform their
colleagues and the funding agencies about their usefulness. (I mean the
usefulness of the net; presumably they have already told everybody about
their own usefulness.) (At this point, anyone who argues that good
newreading software will eliminate this problem should be prepared to offer
to fly, at their own expense, to every research lab in the world to make
sure the appropriate softare is properly installed, AND teach all the
researchers how to use it.) 

	A second problem associated with fragmentation is that some people 
may be aware of only one group and so may miss a discussion that would be 
interesting to them. For example, someone who could use ACEDB but wasn't 
aware of it or its newsgroup (but was reading the CHROMOSOMES group), may 
never hear enough about it to realize what a great tool it is (regardless 
of how wonderful the software is, everyone, at some point in their lives, 
has never heard of ACEDB).

	We do need a group to discuss genome issues. Based on the traffic 
in the HUMAN-GENOME-PROGRAM (bionet.molbio.genome-program) and CHROMOSOME22 
groups, I don't think a single group would be so overwhelmed with messages 
that people would stop reading it. Maybe in a year or two, if the amount of 
traffic warrents it, it could be split into subgroups.

	So, let me propose, informally, that there be one genome newsgroup 
devoted to ALL aspects of genome science, for both eukaryotes and 
prokaryotes, for discussion of software, reagents, techniques, funding, 
meetings, yeast contamination of cDNA libraries, or whatever. At the recent 
DOE genome conference in Santa Fe, there was strong criticism of software 
developers because of their lack of communication between themselves, and 
with biologists. A single newsgroup frequented by both computer people and 
biologists could provide the forumn to address this need.

	Since there is already a genome newsgroup in existence, perhaps the 
best solution would be to broaden its charter to include all aspects of 
genome research, instead of just human genome research.


clark at  (Internet)
clark at salk               (Bitnet)

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