“Connectomics” is a nascent but growing discipline. As evidence of this, a simple pubmed search of Connectome will show that at the end of 2010 there were fewer than 20 papers using the word. It’s growth seems to be exponential, however, as today the same search yields nearly 200 hits. One of the artifacts of being an emerging discipline is that there is very little established infrastructure for promoting community between all of the various participants in the field. Probably the most prominent are some meetings occasionally hosted by HHMI or the Max Planck Society to discuss primarily methodological concerns. There is even still some confusion on how best to circumscribe the discipline… groups with ever-expanding lists of approaches are choosing to attach themselves to the term. So it seems there is a real need for additional infrastructure for promoting communication between groups taking very different approaches to understanding nervous system connectivity. The obvious structures that are missing would be scientific meetings or sessions at other meetings. Less obvious would be information-aggregation sites that are prominent in model organism communities (see for example www.wormbase.org). At least two sites already exist that can provide some of that structure, at least for making data available (openconnectome, specific to connectome data, and the Cell Centered Database, which hosts a broad range of 3D image data). Currently, there doesn’t seem to be much that fills the role of providing “news” to the community… One such attempt to do so is the Connectome Blog, run by Ben Thomas. On this site he has a section with blog posts about connectivity-related news, as well as a podcast where he interviews various people associated with Connectomics. The blog is pretty active and the guy seems to work pretty hard.. one bit of value I see in it is that it is written from the perspective of a journalist… perhaps a better aggregator of news than the typical bench scientist. The interviews in the podcasts are certainly worth checking out and offer some insight that you aren’t going to find in a journal publication… hopefully he keeps up the good work, and I highly recommend checking them out! If you like the podcasts, also check out THIS LINK for an interview with John White, one of the drivers behind the C. elegans connectome work.
Does anyone have any thoughts on promoting community among Connectome-ologists? Is there a need for more than what we have?