Thursday, December 04, 2008

Open source ECG project

Here's an interesting new use of Web 2.0 (which encourages the web's potential for multiuser interactivity to create new knowledge) to benefit developing countries. The project aims to enable doctors all over the world to build their own affordable, safe and clinically useful ECGs. By making both the software and hardware solutions open source, it is hoped that a pooling of collective knowledge will result in a working product.

The brand new website is mainly wiki-based which means participants download, edit and upload pages so that, in theory at least, the latest improvements are always available. In my experience these types of collaborative open-source wikis tend to be a bit clunky and hard to navigate, but this site is very well designed and you needn't be particulary techy to use it.

These projects rely on 'goodwill' and a belief in the collectivism of scientific information over commercialism. It's represents a big shift in the way Western science - traditionally rather secretive to protect priority claims - is configured. The project seems to me to be a good idea and I hope that it succeeds.

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