Today I presented a high-level view of the Gene Wiki project to a group of people interested in expanding the application of "collaborative innovation" in the biomedical domain. My presentation (and my lack of a suit) definitely felt like an outlier in this group. Many of the other talks brought up the apparently looming demise of the pharmaceutical industry due to a lack of innovation and made suggestions about how companies and consortia could make changes that would allow them to tap into much broader, more diverse intellectual and physical resources using a variety of mechanisms. We also had presentations about how the same kinds of cost-saving, creativity-enhancing approaches might be used to tackle neglected diseases (aka diseases that are not likely to make the pharma companies huge amounts of money by curing as opposed to say, cancer). The special sauce here is this "collaborative innovation" stuff. This seems to some extent to reiterate the age-old solution to complexity - 'divide and conquer'. The problems of developing novel drugs today are diverse - any successful solution is the result of the execution of many many different tasks. The key challenges for people in this industry (and many others I imagine) seem to be knowing which of the tasks they are very good at completing, which tasks they are not, who the people are that can complete these tasks, and how to legally transact mutually beneficial collaborations with those other people.
For more information see the conference website for abstracts and links to the talks.
Random notes to self:
- I love talking about the gene wiki! Its just a great story to tell. I'm really looking forward to the time that my part of this story is half as interesting as the parts that have already transpired.
- Why do I spend so much time worrying about and getting ready for presentations that are largely gone the moment they are completed and so little time on these blog posts that tend to stick around for years?
- This evening I spent far too much time preaching that games were the future of this domain and that Jane McDonigal had the keys to saving the world in her book 'Reality is Broken'. I couldn't help it, I got excited!
- I should have spent more time listening to what people like Hassan had to say - especially as he seems to have been studying game-like systems for large-scale collaborative innovation for a long time...