ANALYSIS & OPINION
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Laboratory Informatics goes online

It seems the scientific community has finally caught up with Web 2.0. In August 2007, SciVee – 'the scientist's YouTube' – was launched to allow net-savvy scientists to upload their papers along with 10-minute video presentations that explain the key points of their research, and Facebook now contains numerous groups that discuss the trials and tribulations of implementing laboratory informatics software.

It’s a theme that is evident throughout Scientific Computing World’s Laboratory Informatics Guide 2008 (viewable here): recent developments in technology are permeating the scientific community and changing the tools they use in their daily lives.

In her article discussing the trends evident in informatics software, Siân Harris discovers why many informatics providers are now using technology borrowed from the web to change the way that users interact with ELNs and LIMS systems.

As we find in 'The changing face of lab informatics' and 'The state of the ELN market in 2007', the lines that divide the different software in an informatics suite seem to be blurring, with many informatics companies providing connectivity among their different components to effect efficient data transfer throughout laboratory processes. These 'open interfaces' can even bridge the gaps between software from different vendors, meaning customers are no longer tied to one company for all their laboratory software. We also examine the way that different industries, including petrochemical companies and utilities, are benefitting from these new systems.

No matter how innovative a new technology is, it frequently creates more problems than it solves, particularly on the question of future-proofing data. Clare Sansom discusses the ways that pharmaceutical companies are archiving their electronic records to protect against changes in software and storage media, so the information can still be read in years to come.

The Guide also includes a roundup of the latest releases of both ELNs and LIMS systems, and a comprehensive directory of informatics suppliers.

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