Organizations & People
Report from IUPAC-Sponsored
Chemistry and the Internet
25-27 September 1999, Washington, DC, USA
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This conference was the second in a series of annual meetings;
the web site is at http://www.chemint.org.
In 1999, there were five sessions on electronic ("e-")
issues, including e-commerce, e-publishing, education, corporate
Internet and intranet strategy, and databases. The first, second,
and fourth sessions were followed by lively discussions led by a
panel of experts. Bill Town of ChemWeb opened the first session,
explaining why so many companies are rushing into e-commerce. Despite
the costs (up to USD 40 million to set up a storefront) and the
current unprofitability of most ventures, the long-term gains could
be tremendous. "E-commerce is not easy, it's not cheap, and
it's not optional".
In the publishing arena, first, Chris Parkinson, Environmental
Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), demonstrated the EMSL Desktop,
a new collaborative authoring environment that allows multiple users
in different, geographically remote institutions, to read and write
multiple documents, on multiple heterogeneous platforms. EMSL Desktop
has moved away from applet technology and is now more like a "desktop"
on a desktop, allowing "drag and drop", and application
Bob Bovenschulte of ACS Publications answered ten big questions
Does electronic publishing reduce costs?
Is faster better?
How should the electronic archive be maintained?
What is the outlook for pricing models?
Who should own the copyright to journal articles?
Should all the sciences adopt the preprint/e-print
Should peer review be redefined?
Who should link to whom, and how?
Will secondary publishers become obsolete?
What is the governments proper role in scientific
Steven Bachrach of Trinity University gave a progress report on
the Internet Journal of Chemistry (IJC). Targets include full incorporation
of multimedia, promotion of Internet technologies, low cost, and
liberal copyright policies. IJC is peer-reviewed and covers all
areas of chemistry. In the education session, Donald DeCoste described
web-based homework assignments at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, Karl Harrison demonstrated the incorporation of
multimedia into courseware at the University of Oxford, and Lon
Mathias showed how the Polymer Science Learning Center at the University
of Southern Mis sissippi web site makes polymer information free
and fun. Robert Lancashire's site at the University of the West
Indies gets many visitors because it is the home of the JCAMP-DX
data viewer for Windows.
Lancashire discussed interactive web page development with Chime
and Java. Alan Arnold of the Australian Defence Force Academy talked
about MetaChem, a web gateway to international print and electronic
sources of chemical information. Sites are evaluated, described,
classified, and indexed, and a database of metadata has been set
up. Yvonne Martin of Abbott Laboratories was the first speaker in
the corporate intranet program. She is developing a web tool that
enables bench chemists to discover structure-property-activity relationships.
ChemSymphony "Beans", from Cherwell Scientific, are being
used. Lewis Jardine, of Cherwell, talked about these Java beans
in a later session. Tom Pierce's talk concerned web culture at Rohm
and Haas, while Achim Zielesny described the impressive integrated
chemistry system that has been built on the Bayer intranet.
On the final day, Stephen Boyer of IBM described an intellectual
property "infobank" based on IBM's patent services on
the Net; one of them is free, and the other, a "Gold"
site, is for paid use by businesses. IBM also offers data mining
and visualization tools. Next, Gary Mallard of the U.S. National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) talked about the NIST
Chemistry WebBook and the (free) use of chemistry reference data
on the web. It was interesting to relate this talk to an earlier
one on database protection by Jerome Reichman of Vanderbilt University,
School of Law. Reichman is anxious to encourage the "sharing
ethos", and he fears that database protection could impede
the progress of science and innovation. In the final presentation
(coauthored by Wolf-Dietrich Ihlenfeldt and Frank Oellien at the
University of Erlangen-Nürnberg), Marc Nicklaus of the U.S.
National Cancer Institute (NCI) demonstrated the enhanced "CACTVS"
software for browsing the open NCI database.
A free Internet system, called Erlangen/Bethesda Data and Online
Services, offers sophisticated facilities, including chemical structure
handling, and 3D pharmacophore search. The conference attendance
was not so large as to discourage networking and audience participation,
yet countries from East and West and from both hemispheres were
represented. A detailed record of the Proceedings, with links to
related web sites, is available at http://www.warr.com/chemnt99.html.
Chemistry and the Internet (ChemInt2000) will be held again 2326
September 2000 at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA (see
Dr. Wendy A. Warr
Wendy Warr & Associates, Cheshire, England, UK
Chairman, IUPAC Committee on Printed and Electronic Publications
> Published in Chem.
Int. 22(5), 2000
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