Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why #badomics words can also be very good: a case in study with museomics #JGIUM

Well, my snarky blog style with some of my awards comes with some risks. Today I experienced one of them. Stephan Schuster gave me some serious major grief over a post I wrote a few years ago. In the post I gave him an award for "Worst new omics word" for the word museomics. I gave this award because, well, I don't like the word. I stand by my complaints about the word. But Stephan did highlight ( in his comments to me in the back of the room at the JGI User Meeting) that the word has been remarkably useful at getting money and attention for museum based genomics studies.

So I guess here is the dilemma. I realize new omics words can get attention. Omics is after all very hot still. But I write about #badomics words both because I think it is fun and also because I think people are careless with the language much of the time. Many omics words are really awful with no benefits. But some, fit my criteria as being badomics words, but can have positive benefits. To the public, the word museomics probably conjures up exactly what museum people want - the image of cutting edge science. Though I love museums, to some the conjure up images of dust and cobwebs and crotchety old scientists wandering around the halls in the dark. So the term museomics may indeed turn this on it's head. This term even to me conjures up images of museums doing cool things. So alas, I guess this is a mea culpable of sorts. I still think the word itself is not great. After all, if you think about it, all it really means is doing genomics with museum specimens. But clearly Stephan has a good point ... Getting attention to science is a good thing. So I guess badomics words can be used for good.

I am still going to snark about badomics words. But I will try to make more mention of the potential value they have in spreading science and omics to the masses ....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

UPDATE 5/13/2013
What a wimp out.  Museomics is such a bad bad bad omics word.


  1. He has a good point, but here's another good point:

    We have to be able to laugh at ourselves. This includes taking some amount of friendly teasing in stride.

    I doubt very much that the word "museomics" is why Schuster got his money, in any case <-- it might be hard to tell, but that's a compliment: I'm assuming he got his money (and attention) because of the merit of his proposals, not his etymologically questionable neologism.

  2. I am not so sure Chris ... Yesterday t a meeting about NSF IGERT proposals we wrere told that a good acronym was critical to funding ... Museomics may be word I do not like, but I have to admit it is catchy and it conveys meaning relatively easily ... So sure .. Maybe a better word is out there ... But I can see how this word could have some key uses ... Again ... I still don't like it ... But it may work

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  4. I always thought your badomics awards were entertainingly self-defeating. Words fix in the language based on their frequency of use. Language prescriptionists have, for centuries, been frustrated by the fact that their protests actually strengthen the words they wish to extinguish.

    Schuster should have a look at the history of dictionary making in the English language. He'll probably come back and thank you.

    Anyway, here I am taking about language and not previewing my comments for errors. Heh.

  5. I note ... The best part of the whole interaction with Stephan was that we were in the back of the conference room with Janet Jannson sitting between us. Stephan was making comments and i was responding and Janet as figuratively and literally trying to stay out of the way ....

  6. There is a great benefit for winning a #badomics award, which is great publicity for a new term. Most of hits to my students' project PharmacoMicrobiomics are related to your well-deserved badomics award

    However, in my case, funding didn't knock my doors yet :P

  7. remember, bad words make good marketing.


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