March 02, 2002

So I'm writing (my paper) now. It took a little time to absorb it all--I've just sat and played with the data for a while. I think much of this "new" science is going to demand just diving into the numbers and running your fingers around its contours. The data sets are big and more complex than anything a molecular biologist is used to dealing with. Part of the process is merely getting used to the data and getting comfortable with it. Inevitably, since I'm a tinkerer I twist and stretch the methodology (not the data!) to see how it responds. Where I harbored a lingering, irrational fear that this was all artifact (every scientist's nightmare), I'm feeling more and more that this is real--it's an accomodation with complexity.

But then come new challenges. This way of looking at data is different. It isn't completely unprecedented, but it demands a new perspective on the science. And in this dream of recognizing complex phenotypes based on thousands of characteristics, comes the responsibility of "selling" it to the broader scientific community. This could potentially be very hard indeed, or assuming sympathetic reviewers, could be relatively easy. What is evident, in spite of all of this, is that I have to pitch the paper rhetorically. I have to sway the readers no less than an effective politician sways voters.

I guess I was never going to get out of the writing business entirely.

Posted by erich at March 02, 2002 08:49 AM
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