Science | Photos | Music | Book

Ten years of online chemical community

Joao Aires de Sousa emailed me a while back to tell me that the excellent ORGLIST email discussion group was coming up to its tenth anniversary. I remember it was essential reading for bored staff in the editorial offices where I worked, providing light relief and a loose connection with the real world of chemistry happening beyond our admin system and manuscripts.

Trouble is, I got waylaid with other matters on the Sciencebase blog and overlooked Joao’s original post until last week, when I discovered that the tenth anniversary had been and gone. The first post was made on March 15, 1997 to announce the formation of the list and said simply “ORGLIST is a new mailing list dedicated to Organic Chemistry” and giving details on how to subscribe. Joao in this inaugural missive also asked everyone who received it to forward the email to potentially interested parties. Such was the extent of viral marketing in those days at a time when Youtube, Web 2.0, wikis, and blogs simply didn’t exist in the current sense.

The first “real” post was in French and asked about where to find information on the Blue Bottle experiment and the Ammonia Fountain, perennial high school science lab fodder, I believe.

A celebratory ORGLIST symposium entitled “Computers at the frontiers of Organic Chemistry” will be held this July 17 in parallel with the 7th National Meeting of Organic Chemistry of the Portuguese Chemical Society.

“Thousands of chemists from all over the world have gathered on ORGLIST to discuss Organic Chemistry,” Joao says.

I asked Joao about the longevity of the list. “Its success resides in email,” he says, “Email has a unique combination of features that make it extremely convenient. It is probably the Internet tool most integrated into the information processing routines of chemists.” He points out that checking email is pretty much a daily routine for almost everyone in science. “I think that makes email a great channel for building virtual networks of scientists,” he adds, “probably more than ever before!” Reaches the daily lives of hundreds of subscribers. “This allows quick, useful answers to posts and makes users feel part of a community,” Joao says, “That and ten years of online history.”

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestmail