So, from the start I thought BiomedExperts sounded like a pretty neat idea- a social network wherein personal profiles are built with data from PubMed.
From the FAQ:
“Profiles in BioMedExperts (BME) are generated by extracting and assigning the biomedical concepts from an article to the authors and co-authors that are listed with the published article. We have done this on six million scientific publications from over 6,500 journals. BME currently contains profiles of about 1.4 million biomedical experts from more than 150 countries, representing approximately 12 million connections in the pre-established BME network. BME experts can access the system to revise and/or update their personal details, publications and/or preferences”
Huh. Neat. Definitely worth checking out.
Before I got around to checking it out, though, a discussion blossomed via the Web4Lib listserv. Gerry MckKernan started things out by sharing the known details.
Tom Peters wrote, quite reasonably:
“…Yes, if this proves successful, I think similar things could be created for other disciplines.”
…to which Thomas Krichel replied:
“and another set of nails on the coffins of libraries.”
Whhhaaaaa…? I was baffled- but It seems I wasn’t alone. Jesse Ephraim made me smile with his reply to Thomas Krichel:
“If something like that is a set of nails on the coffins of libraries,then libraries deserve to die out.
We need to quit thinking of these things as challenges to our domain, and start looking at other ways that we can be useful.
Adaptation and change will be the norm from now on.”
I decided upon reading this that I would like to buy Jesse the beverage of his choosing for being so unapologetically correct.
“Tell me, if all biomedical scientists were to use biomedexperts, why would the US government still fund PubMed?”
Why WOULDN’T they? BiomedExperts doesn’t compete with PubMed/MEDLINE. Rather, it RELIES on PubMed/MEDLINE. If Mr. Krichel is going to play chicken little, perhaps he could try actually *looking* at the sky before pronouncing it to be in free-fall?
But this was the part that bugged me the most. Jesse Ephraim had said (rightly, I think) that “[a]daptation and change will be the norm from now on.”
Thomas Krichel retorted:
“Go and tell that to the NLM. I am not sure they will obey, but it’s worth a try.”
Again: Whhhaaaaa…? It is far from perfect, but I think PubMed exemplifies pretty well a tool that is constantly adapting, constantly changing. Some days I wish it changed and adapted less. My point: There are privately-funded institutions that innovate a hell of a lot less. Anyone who works in a health sciences library knows how much the NLM has accomplished and continues to accomplish.
I guess I can’t really blame Krichel for not knowing this. A quick look at his C.V. seems to indicate that he doesn’t work with biomedical literature or in a health sciences library- so he can’t be expected to speak knowledgeably about the NLM.
Only on listservs and blogs can you see supposedly educated people speak completely out of the wrong orifice in this manner.