Just the other day, I was talking to someone about the days when we had just a few conferences and tools and it was easier to know where to find information. The person I was talking to made a comment to me that he was frustrated because, unlike those days, now we have to belong to everything. I disagree.

So Many Tools and Groups
Each week, it seems I’m invited to use some new tool or join some new group, none of which sound much different than what I already belong to. When I selected LinkedIn as a tool for the LIMS/Laboratory Informatics group (http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/36640/6A50095E87BA) I picked LinkedIn because it seemed to be the right place, at the time. Also, there weren’t any other LinkedIn groups that had anything to do with LIMS, ELN or other laboratory informatics, so I figured I should start one and that people would join.

I also did it because it was easy to do. But as we know, since it’s so easy, people don’t necessarily join each other’s group. After all, it’s so easy for someone to start their own, they don’t need to live by the restrictions of someone else’s group. Thus, we have many groups, none of which really support our industry, where each one is its own island rather than a place to really bring our industry together. That’s regrettable.

Fear of Missing Out
Thus, because there are so many groups, some people seem to have a fear that if they don’t join everything that they’ll miss something. They don’t know what to join and where to find things, so they join everything.

But think back when we had fewer things to join – we still joined too many things and read none of them. Now that we’re joining even more things, I think we’re in the same boat where we aren’t going to read them. As for the mash-ups that try to get everything into one place so we can see everything, I find that there’s so much in them that I don’t care about that I don’t read them, anyway. Thus, as people ask me to join more things, I become increasingly less likely to add any particular tool or join any particular group unless a truly excellent reason is given for doing so.

On top of that, few have consistent and good information. Add to that that the major issues show up almost everywhere, regardless. We probably won’t miss much by missing most of them.

Pruning What We Have
Recently, I went on a major pruning of my groups and tools. For those things I felt I “should” read but have never read, I cut them, too. But even I have a way to go. Let’s face it, most of us keeping our memberships to Plaxo are doing it just so we can send out those birthday cards to each other throughout the year and not because we share valuable information in them.

When I had approached various software vendors and magazines about supporting the LIMS/Laboratory Informatics groups early on before there were so many others, because I wanted people to tell others about it so our industry would know it existed, but I didn’t get traction on that. In some cases, I realize it was because some of them planned to start their own, rather than supporting a single source. After all, it’s easy-enough to do. Thus, I’m not sure we’ll end up consolidating again. Thus, some of the efforts to standardize or to promote good practices probably have less of a chance unless they advertise to every source, which isn’t possible since it’s no longer possible to even know what they all are, anymore.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises

One Thought to “Too Many Tools and the Fear of Missing Something”

  1. Nancy Ridenhour

    I agree that one has to prune periodically. The group may not be a fit anymore. That may be because we changed, the group changed or a better group came along. I think the idea is to continually look and see what fits at the time.

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