Monday, December 9, 2013

The ILIAD Project

Graduate School in Sciences can be really hard. Sometimes ones work feels really insignificant. I often felt this way while doing my Ph.D. Especially after my first paper was summarily crushed after revisions by a journal. I thought what can I do in Science if other Scientists don't even appreciate my work? Who can I help? Then I started to think about how insignificant I was(which can be a good thing). I started to think what is better than one Josiah doing research? Maybe 10 Josiahs or 100s or even 1000s. Then the questions came how can I inspire thousands of people to do Open research towards a Scientific goal?

I grew up in the Open Source Movement. I wrote the program IP Sorcery, a packet generator for Linux, thousands of lines of code. I have always tried to make my code available online, even funny or stupid or crappy code I write. You never know who will find it useful? Open Source changed my life. Having code to dig through and learn from. Being able to hack on code that already had a good base took out much of busy work and allowed me to dive in. I think Open Source Software changed not only my life but the world. I am writing this from Linux, using Chrome, and my email is open in Thunderbird and my cell phone runs android, all Open Source softwares. This is pretty amazing!

I think we are entering the age of the carbon atom, the organic molecule and leaving the age of silicon. I think this age will be dominated by DIYers like Linus Torvalds(The inventor of Linux) they just need the resources and direction to make this happen.

Things like FoldIt and Zooniverse and many others have started to change the way Science is done. BUT they are not Science. They are games that people play to help out Scientists. What if instead we could involve people in Science so that they learn from their involvement. So not only are they helping create Scientific Knowledge but they are also turning them selves into Scientists at the same time!

This is where The ILIAD project was born. A simple idea that would solve a problem. Instead of small numbers of people searching for antibiotics in organisms, take large numbers of people in different locations and have them test and use their intelligence and intuition to find them.

Did you know that Red Sage was a Traditional Chinese Medicine? Did you know that someone tested it's extract for antibiotic activity and now it is under development as an antibiotic? What else is out there? What knowledge do local people have on plants and insects that outsiders might not? What if everything on the planet could be tested and made Open and Accessible to anyone?

I love doing Science so much and I will never stop doing Science. I think though that I should also spend time inspiring others to learn and perform Science. One day I will be dead and my skills and creativity will be gone unless I train and show others how to do things. I want to see Science Fiction become Science Reality and that starts by involving the whole world and not just people in academia or in industry or people of privilege.

I have been working on The ILIAD project for over 6 months and have invested close to $1000 which is alot for someone who was making the NIH minimum postdoc salary of $39,000/Year. I believe in this project but I don't want it to succeed for it's own sake. I would gladly watch this project go under if it meant that some other project could take its place and involve thousands or millions of people across the world in Science.

I just want see and do beautiful things and I hope others do also.

The ILIAD Project Indiegogo campaign is here: