I thought BioWizard was pretty cool the last time I wrote about it, but hadn’t been to see it in a couple months when I got an email from BioWizard’s Dr. Raju Raval:
“We have been fully redeveloping the site, and yes the new site has a completely different functionality, with usefulness and simplicity as our main aims. We incorporated many suggestions, and are truly excited about how quickly the site is taking off…”
Hardly surprising that it’s taking off- the redesign is really, really good.
For those new to BioWizard, here’s a brief overview of how it works:
BioWizard users submit relevant, timely research articles they have found to be useful and interesting to the BioWizard site. Just perform your usual PubMed search on BioWizard and submit your favorite research. The articles you submit are then read by the rest of the community who promote articles they feel are deserving of recognition. The best articles in a research field are brought to the top page for all to read and discuss. Think of it as a supercharged way to find and share the best research in your field.
The first thing I noticed about the redesign is that it looks a lot like Digg.
Here’s the new BioWizard:
I should clarify here that I am not criticizing this emulation of Digg (I’m actually applauding it), and BioWizard doesn’t seem shy about admitting it. Dr. Raval told me “[w]e were definitely inspired by Digg and Netscape in creating our site…” The design works. It is efficient and easy for the eye to browse and skim. I really like
BioWizard’s innovation of the colored horizontal line over each item that indicates the item’s category. (Edit: Thanks to Vikas Sah for letting me know that the colored lines indicating category are not original to BioWizard, but to Pligg. Pligg is a freeware CMS that’ll let anyone run a digg-like site, and is the architecture behind LISZEN: Trends.)
Last August, I wrote about BioWizard that I would “…like to see RSS integration.” While they haven’t done exactly what I wanted to see, they have added useful features. Feeds for “New Articles”, “On the Rise,” and “All” help keep the user appraised of new developments and trends, enhancing BioWizard’s utility as a current awareness tool.
I’d still like to see the sort of feeds I described previously and it seems to me that feeds based on categories wouldn’t be hard to provide and would be warmly welcomed by users, but this is a really great start.
Also last August, I wrote this about Biowizard:
“Also, it would be great if members of your community could “tag” articles. For instance, they might tag an article as “Policy:FPIN” to make an article they think should be considered when reviewing or rivising policy. This would require, though, that BioWizard make tags or comments searchable.”
As near as I can tell, BioWizard has done just this sort of thing. Users can now tag items, and BioWizard has a tag cloud, and clicking a tag in the cloud searches for all items marked in BioWizard with that tag.
On the whole, BioWizard’s redesign has resulted in a dramatic improvement of what was already a very decent application of a great idea.
I’d still like for groups of users to be able to form their own groups and take advantage of ratings within that group (an addition to ratings from the entire user base as a whole), but I have few other critiques to offer.
Dr. Raval’s email described BioWizard’s goals in an extremely appealing manner:
“…we hope BioWizard will become an integral tool in keeping up to date on the most important published literature in the scientific and medical fields. We also want great papers that might be otherwise overlooked to come to light, as many important papers come out in middle tier journals yet are deserving of recognition. In addition, we wanted to create a useful source of medical/scientific news, and to consolidate the table of contents from many of the major journals into one location. This allows scientists and physicians to save time, and to communicate with one another directly.”
This is one of those instances where I see the application of a “social software” model as potentially being a tremendous benefit to clinical users, and I am excited to see how it develops- both as a tool and as a community.
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