In 2007 this blog was mainly scientific. Last year I’ve explored possibilities of being a freelance scientist. As I’ve announced earlier on Twitter, theme for this year will be science and art. And I should already explain: I’m not going to write about such extraordinary artistic endeavours like creating music from DNA/protein sequence, try to convince you that science is beautiful or state that my pictures of molecules are the true art. I’m more interested to see if there’s anything I can learn from The Art, its history and its approach. While I’m not yet sure what I will end up writing about, here are two topics I may start with to see in which direction this theme unfolds.
Holistic approach to science
This is something I was thinking about for a while. I didn’t come up with anything interesting, but I think it’s worth exploring further. Some first ideas were coming from reading Wikipedia entry about lateralization of brain functions or Steve Brenner’s comments about “middle-out approach” (as opposed to top-bottom or bottom-up). I’ve also found peculiar Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi‘s answer to Edge 2009 question, where he wrote about “The end of analytic science”. Very recently I’ve also found interesting interview with Daniel Tammet, autistic savant, who explains his theory of exceptional creativity coming from “hyper-connectivity” of distinct brain regions. I have no yet idea whether there’s anything practical to find in such theories, but their exploration will be appealing enough.
Dashboard design for scientific data
This is something more practical, although again I expect to get no points for that topic. Information dashboard is a very cool concept rarely used in life sciences. One of the best known examples in bioinformatics may be InterPro domain page (here’s example entry on pore-forming lobe of aerolysins) – almost everything is on the single page, it has some nice graphical overviews of particular features (like species distribution), etc. It’s not the prettiest dashboard around, but at least you don’t need to click anywhere to have an overview of stored information (compare it to PFAM approach to similar domain). I hope to learn what makes a great dashboard, experiment a little and see if the result is worth the effort.
I still will be blogging about bioinformatics, visualizations and open science – that stays in place. Especially the last topic is something I expect to write about quite a lot – my feeling is that this year will bring couple of interesting events in this area (and I hope to initiate some of them). So if you don’t like the “science and art” theme, I think I will give you some other reasons to visit this blog once in a while.