SymAtlas and the Law of Inevitable Stagnation

GNF has maintained the very popular SymAtlas gene portal for many years now. Given the success of that site, what motivated us to start anew and create BioGPS? The answer is simple and can be described by what I’ll call the Law of Inevitable Stagnation. Let me explain…

I think many successful web sites (especially in bioinformatics) follow the same general lifecycle. Over time, the number of users that utilize your web site grows, and with that increasing user base comes an increasing number of user requests. Those requests typically center around adding more data and more functionality. But unless you’re a big genome center or have an overflowing funding supply (and who has that?), your developer resources generally stay pretty static.

That widening divergence between user requests and resources has pretty much one outcome. Since the core developers’ time is always the rate limiting step, addition of new features/data always feels slow. And when you do manage to add new features/data, you increase the size of your application and make each subsequent addition even more complex. Eventually users feel the site beginning to stagnate. And finally, you end up beating all expectations for improvement out of your users. SymAtlas is case in point number 1.

How does BioGPS get around this? By harnessing community intelligence and community development efforts. In short, we enable users to help others simply by helping themselves. More on this in future posts…

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