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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Biomass Chemicals: From Green Plants to Chemistry, by Mitch Jacoby

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July 6, 2009

Chemicals from the Garden: Advances in Biomass Chemistry transform plant matter to valuable chemicals. I recommend this 3-page update on an important area of development.

Another aspect of importance here is emphasized in Mr Jacoby's opening sentence: "Sound scientific ideas sometimes lie in limbo for decades until some event, discovery or urgent need triggers a wave of research." Once again, the Information Age allows us to solve a common problem: saving and storing ideas, etc., with effective retrieval at a later date by people unseen. Inexpensive storage and efficient hypertext search engines make this possible in ways that Dbase, Rbase, etc., never could.

Picture this: Your walking down the company corridor, empty coffee cup in hand, going for a refill. Walking towards you is a colleague with filled coffee cup in hand. You stop and chat to each other about an issue facing you, the company, colleagues, etc. Being the thoughtful, inventive folks that you are, you come up with some relevant ideas. "Oops, got to get back to my office," and you both part ways. The ideas are left hanging in the ether in the corridor like a transient ghost, never to be heard from again. Lost opportunity, lost intellectual property.

It is important for organizations to have systems in place where such ideas can be saved, much like a suggestion box. A wiki or blog is more than adequate to the task because searching is so easy, although more sophisticated tools may be even better. To quote Neil Larson, creator of the award-winning MaxThink and other tools, "The value of information is in how it is organized."
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