My Thoughts Exactly

Among the BioInformaticians

Last Tuesday and Wednesday I attended the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo, at the World Trade Center in Boston. I was a booth babe for Bioinformatics.org, (“The open access institute”) and also was pimping my books. I discovered the BioInformatics organization about a decade ago while pimping my books (what else) at the O’Reilly BioInformatics conference in Tucson. They started out as basically a sourceforge for bioinformatic software, kind of a reaction to corportization of all things genomic, and have grown from there. I wrote about them a little in my famous Salon article How I Decoded the Human Genome.

Because I’m a total dummy and didn’t look at a map, it took me forever to get there from the place I was staying, one mile away, so I only caught the last twenty minutes of the talk given by Philip Bourne on the occasion of his being named 2009’s Franklin Laureate, by the Bioinformatics Organization — an award named in honor of Ben Franklin, who refused to patent his inventions. I saw virtually none of the show. I attended no sessions, and I didn’t even cruise the exhibit hall. Instead, along with Bioinformtics Organization colleagues Jeff Bizarro and Shailender Nagpal, I staffed our organization’s tiny booth and fielded whatever questions came my way– sometimes fielding them lamely, at which times I was glad to be backstopped by Jeff and Shailender.

Some impressions follow. Because my exposure to the show was so limited, they’re kind of like an image taken by a pinhole camera, so take them for whatever they’re worth. The most interesting part of the whole show, for me, was the discussion with Melina Fan, PhD, founder and executive director of the group Addgene, about which more below.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Attention E-Tech Infidels!

A linkfest for people at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (and anybody else considering buying my books) to do some due diligence.

People Saying nice things about my books
Grumpy Old Bookman, Salon, Kuro5hin (Acts of the Apostles), Slashdot Acts and CCD, Geek.com, BioInformatics.org, Jeffrey Zeldman, Danny Yee, and Kuro5hin (Cheap Complex Devices).

Stuff I wrote for Salon
Editor’s Choice Best of Salon 2003 lists 4 articles by me (4 out of 32 — not bad!). And How I Destroyed the New Economy explains how I caused our current economic predicament by helping to desecrate and ancient Native American burial ground.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Alert Fire Chief and Captain, Silent Friends save Firefighter/Writer from Self-Immolation

There’s a fine line between “Hey, cute idea” and “Holy Fuck, was that ever a stupid idea”. Well I like to walk that razor’s edge. I guess that’s why some folks call me “Danger Man”. Well, actually, nobody calls me Danger Man, but if they did, that might indicate why.

See, I’m going to the O’Reilly Etech Conference next week to try to sell some of my books to the “alpha geeks” as (Tim O’Reilly calls his posse). And to any beta geeks who might be there, and so-on right through the omega geeks, and thence on to the roman alphabet geeks.

So I thought it would be nice to join the modern age and make a little video about me and my books. I was kind of inspired by this self-mocking movie by my friend Josh Crowley at Enter the Jabberwock. I figured, hey, Josh makes cool movies, all the big time writers have youtube movies to promote their books, *I* should make a movie! I thought that was a swell idea.

Not all ideas that I think are swell actually are good ideas, however.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Hofstadter

I spoke with Douglas Hofstadter for about an hour yesterday. That was kinda cool. I’m still hoping that he’ll participate in the mashup of my Cheap Complex Devices, but I ain’t going to count on it.

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My Thoughts Exactly

Steve Talbott: Technopoly's eloquent critic

I often describe myself as a technoparanoaic, or a technoskeptic, or a neoluddite, or whatever. I’ve used an excerpt from the Unabomber Manifesto as epigrams to my books, and I’ve called my Acts of the Apostles “Bill Joy’s Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us in convenient thriller format, with fewer pictures and more sex and car chases.” But although I might use a Kaczynski quotation in order to be provacative, and although I obsess on dystopian visions of the future, I really don’t have a consistent point of view.

To read somebody who does have a consistent point of view, see Netfuture:Technology and Human Responsibility, the occasional newsletter put out by Steve Talbott.

I don’t always agree with everything Steve says (although I usually agree with most of it), and once in a while his writing style gets a little floral for my taste. But he is a wise man and a thoughtful writer. I highly recommend him.

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