Tue, 03 Feb 2004 14:10:07 GMT

Sophisticated software for analyzing OA literature. Mike Martin, Iridescent Software Illuminates Research Data, NewsFactor, January 27, 2004. On Iridiscent, sophisticated text analysis software developed at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to help “scientists easily identify obscure commonalities in research data and directly relate them to their own work, saving money and speeding the process of discovery.” Like other intelligent text analysis software, Iridescent applies first and best to the ocean of free data on the public internet. In this case, Iridescent is optimized for reading Medline abstracts. Quoting Harold “Skip” Garner, one of the program's authors: “Many new high-throughput technologies, such as microarrays for gene-expression analysis, generate so much data that it is often hard to interpret. Iridescent can do a much better job because it emulates the scientific thought process. Having assimilated all of Medline [12.7 million records], Iridescent can compile diverse facts to present a list of 'hypotheses' to the user for finding hidden knowledge in the data.” For more details, also see the Texas press release. There seems to be no web site for Iridescent itself or the team that developed it, Jonathan Wren and Skip Garner, but the program is available from Etexx Biopharmaceuticals. (Thanks to ITRU.)

(PS: If I may quote myself from October 2002: “As we move further into an era in which serious research is mediated by sophisticated software, commercial publishers will have to put their works into the public internet in order to make them visible to serious researchers. In this sense, the true promise of [open access] is not that scientific and scholarly texts will be free and online for reading, copying, printing, and so on, but that they will be available as free online data for software that acts as the antennae, prosthetic eyeballs, research assistants, and personal librarians of all serious researchers.”) [Open Access News]


this sounds really handy for the sciences, and i can see how it might be used in the humanities too, by using it to identify common conceptual constructions and differences, not unlike some of the analysis software i've been developing when i have time.