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19th January 2014 @ 03:29

Meeting has taken place. Recording is here. Chat window text attached to this post.

Outcomes are at the bottom of this post.

Original agenda and info:

Many of the OSM meetings are focussed on science. Frequently issues arise that concern website usability. Most science projects don't worry too much about such things, but an open project needs to worry because the websites are how we communicate. There's enough to discuss that we ought to have an open meeting to canvas opinions and solutions to a few things.

Meeting Time
Sydney Tue Feb 18th 7 a.m.
London Mon Feb 17th 8 p.m.
San Francisco Mon Feb 17th 12 noon

Meeting Location:


OSM Mar 2014 Meeting Slides v1 (1).pptm

The draft agenda is as follows:

1) General philosophy: small things matter. It is important that we place as few barriers as possible in the way of people participating. Recurrent issues are: minimization of accounts/passwords, and ease for people to comment on any components of the project.

The various sites have their pros and cons

Github - excellent for communication but not common/popular/easily understandable to science community
Facebook - good for outreach, but not seen as academically serious
Lab notebook - essential technical centre of project, but has limitations for communication (no alerts to new comments) and not obvious how to login
Google+ - Page and Community good compromise, the beginnings of a strong science community

We are maintaining a presence on all of these, which is important but sub-optimal, as we need to duplicate content, and a comment in one place does not appear in another.

2) Landing Page - an important place for the project to be found. What are the limitations? It would be useful for the "new content" up front to be filterable by type, e.g. "What's New in Series 4" and "What's being made right now" which could be done by accurate tagging of Github items. This would address one of the main complaints we have from the medicinal chemistry community: "I can't find what's new, and what you're doing right now. I can't find how I can help." Will invite the original developers of the site, Cloudcity, to this meeting, and ask them to spread the word. The issue of how best to ID new activity was been discussed before here and here. There has also been a call for the ability to see collected activity by people, to get a sense of who is doing what. Again, in the absence of a manually updated wiki entry, how do we do this (related Github issue).

3) Github is being used as a project management tool. Are there others we ought to be considering?

4) Other Collaboration Platforms. Are others working on new platforms for scientific collaboration that combine some of our components? An absolute requirement is the ability to share voluminous raw scientific data, since the project is a real, experimental lab-based project. Are people working on something that combines this with collaboration/project management features? Is the Royal Society of Chemistry doing this? Will invite them to attend the meeting.

5) Molecule Visualization. There has been some talk of how to visualize the project's molecules here (see embedded link too) and here. This can be discussed if people are interested, of if there are new developments from existing participants before the meeting. This may be of general interest to data visualisation people, given that OSM generates a continually-updated dataset of bioactive molecules that people are free to play with.

6) The wiki is used to maintain project status. We're using OpenWetWare. Ought we to be using e.g. Wikiversity? Community members do not tend to contribute to the wiki. Is this because of the password barrier. Is there a wiki that works with logins from other providers?

7) We often use Adobe Connect for online meetings. Are there other possibilities that offer particular advantages? In the past our experience has been that Adobe performs slightly better with ca 10 users across timezones than a Google Hangout.

8) AOB

Given all these things need discussion, and we need to identify how to find solutions, we should get together for an open online meeting to which any interested parties can come. To be clear, this is not a science meeting. It's a web design/open science meeting - how best can we communicate and collaborate? Scientists are very welcome, but we need input in particular from design people and software developers. People who are very fussy about websites and platforms are particularly welcome to contribute because we need to be an easy-to-use platform for everyone.

Those with OpenID or Google logins can comment below, but you can also go here for further comment/question/discussion.

This post authored by Mat Todd. Potential meeting dates changed on Feb 9th.



1) Github - There was general support for the idea of grouping Github issues by theme on the Landing Page, e.g. which molecules are being made now, which questions are in most need of answers etc. MHT to connect with Chuck Fitzpatrick (CloudCity) about what is technically do-able, for example with previews of Issues and images therein. Alice Williamson suggested image previews would be useful when hovering the mouse over the relevant post.

Stephanie Geerlings (Cloudcity) made an excellent suggestion that a curator bewteen primary science content and public view is necessary. This could be an excellent role for the MMV project manager that OSM may be able to access in the near term.

A daily digest function would be useful for Github activity since some people had felt there were too many emails arising from discussions on that platform. There was no obvious fix, but MHT was to link with Steph, Chuck and Patrick Thompson about connecting with people at Github to see if something could be done.

2) Wiki - this was seen as being necessary, but there is a problem with few people editing the pages. It may be that this task is inevitably the responsibility of a small number of OSM leaders. It is possible that OSM contributors do not realise that they are allowed to edit the wiki. 

3) Other platforms - It was seen as useful to have a presence on various platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, because those are busy. It was possible that management of each could be better managed by feed services such as IFTTT.

4) There is an identity problem with Google+, in that the original account for OSM was created under the name osdd.malaria, which was seen by Google as an organisation rather than a name and fell foul of their Names policy. The name was changed to Open Source Malaria, but this did not satisfy the policy and the account is under threat of being removed. Steph suggested she might be able to contact someone to look into a workaround. The G+ page was useful but is only for broadcast in the sense that posts may only be authored by OSM. The Community was started to be more inclusive, but this has yet to attract much activity from others.

5) Whether others were working on other collaboration platforms was not discussed.

6) Molecule Visualisation - not discussed, pending recent activity from ChEMBL using new beta site.

7) No objections to use of Adobe Connect were heard, despite this platform not being free or open source, and being provided through the Uni of Sydney.

8) The possibility of using email lists was discussed briefly. While this would appeal to a number of people who may not be so used to modern web-based collaboration platforms, there was a worry that inputs received via email would need to be converted to online searchable activity, giving rise to more work for central OSM people. Alice suggested an occasional emai-based newsletter, which was seen to be a good idea. The Synaptic Leap platform was also briefly discussed - its limitation as a blog-only platform meaning that components such as a lab notebook, to-do list and wiki were not feasible, and this had led to its being used much less over time.


1) Mat Todd to start Issue relating to whether Github items could be grouped by tag

2) Mat Todd to start Issue on whether image previews from Github items could be generated on the landing page

3) Mat Todd to suggest MMV project manager acts as Curator between primary content and what appears on the Landing Page, i.e. to direct the development of that site.

4) Mat Todd to start Issue on connecting OSM with people at Github to resolve Daily Digest email issue. Note - another way around this was suggested on Twitter, using the new site

5) Mat Todd to make clear on the Wiki that the site can be edited by anyone.

6) Mat Todd to connect with Steph offline to see whether Google+ identity issue can be resolved for osdd.malaria account

7) Mat Todd to set a date for an OSM email newsletter to incorporate latest developments/posts/data/requests



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