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Virtual resource development in the glycosciences

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Abstract

The development of Internet-based virtual resources is a relatively new area of scientific and technical activity that is currently undergoing rapid expansion. Major factors fuelling recent growth include the emergence of multimedia capabilities through the rapid evolution of the World Wide Web, the reduction in cost of high quality personal computers and graphics workstations and the provision of mass-marketed provider services. Prior to 1995 the presence of Internet resources in the glycosciences was virtually non-existent. Existing scientific knowledge was primarily made available on the Net through the provision of databases from gopher and ftp sites. A particular example in the glycosciences is the Carbbank database of biological carbohydrate sequences. We will describe here our efforts in 1994–95 in establishing The Glycoscience Network (TGN, http://bellatrix.pcl.ox.ac.uk/TGN/). These activities included the establishment of a newsgroup, mailing lists, Web resources and the running of the First Electronic Glycoscience Conference (EGC-1, http://bellatrix.pcl.ox.ac.uk/egc/). EGC-1 included many novel initiatives in the glycosciences including electronic posters and papers, a Virtual Conference Centre, a Web-based hyperglossary, Virtual Trade and Employment Centres, refereed electronic publishing, and the creation of a Virtual Reality Gallery. We would like to look towards the near future and discuss several initiatives in virtual resource creation that we believe will have significant scientific impact on the glycosciences including the development of bioinformatics-based servers, sophisticated interactive databases, and videoconferencing. Furthermore, we cherish the belief that these resources will foster international scientific collaboration and progress of an extent never previously possible. Finally, we indulge in speculation and make some suggestions on the form and long-term impact of Glycoscience Virtual Resources. We predict that their development may completely reconstruct the scientific environment that we work in as scientists and we reflect on the probable benefits and pitfalls to be encountered.

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Hardy, B.J., Wilson, I.B.H. Virtual resource development in the glycosciences. Glycoconjugate J 13, 865–872 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00702351

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Keywords

  • virtual resources
  • the glycoscience network
  • electronic conference
  • newsgroup
  • World Wide Web
  • database
  • virtual reality