peter Murray-rust (
Wed, 31 Jan 1996 08:55:57 +0000 (GMT)

One of the great achievements of the course last year was the creation of
a glossary - sometimes called a terminological database. You will find
it on the course pages and see that it has about 300 terms relating to
course material. This glossary was compiled completely by course members
(including many contributions from students).

The discussion which is starting on PPS96-proteins (on chirality) is
exactly what I had hoped for in PPS96. Last year it took place in the
'glossary' mailling list because we were compiling entries for chirality
and related terms.

If there is a group of interested people in PPS96 it would be wonderful to
start more glossary compilation. (This would be a voluntary
'extracurricular' activity :-). Our glossary had a great impact (beyond the
course) and spawned glossaries in organic chemistry, biocomputing and
glycoscience and I have coined the term 'Virtual Hyperglossary'. Virtual is
because it's created and managed in a virtual way; hyper- because it is
distributed over geography and discipline. I have now become involved with
political science and environmental glossary compilation all as a result of

A well-curated glossary will be a central tool for the future. It allows
people to:
- find the meaning and context of a term almost immediately
- markup their own documents automatically
- provide a history of how terminology changes over time
- helps translation into other languages and disciplines (last
year speciment glossary entries were provided in about
10 languages!)
- brings together different interpretations of difficult concepts
(e.g. what is a 'domain' :-)
Moreover with new technology the glossary can provide computer
methodology (e.g. a glossary entry defining R- and S- chirality could
include *the* definitive algorithm for computing it (actually R- and S-
can never have a complete algorithm :-( ) . With scientific units the
glossary can include conversion factors (how many of you know what a
hartree is? how to convert B-factors to U's, etc.)

I mention this since we are starting a major new project in the
development of the hyperglossary concept. Over the last few months I
have met a number of experts in terminology and the time is exactly right
to re-create the hyperglossary project with the new technology.

This message is to see if there is anyone on the course (student,
consultant, etc) who is interested in helping:
- to build or curate the PPS glossary (starting from last years)
- to provide additional language support
- to build glossaries in other subjects
- to take part on the hyperglossary project.

I stress that this is voluntary, but if you are interested it is
tremendous fun and very highly valued by others. (e.g. if you have a
field of expertise, you will find that your colleagues really value a
glossary). (There may already *be* glossaries, but make sure that you
don't break copyright).

I would suggest that if there is sufficient interest in creating a
glossary for PPS96 that a new mailing list be opened. (This glossary
would be primarily concerned with the content and curation of terms that
might be valuable in protein structure.) We would need a curator or
curators - the main qualification is eneergy and enthusiasm for the
subject; we will provide the technology which is significantly better
than last year. Such a new glossary would include chemical structures
and a wealth of hyperlinks to other resources and would also involve
modest 'concept analysis' which is the grouping of related terms
(simplistic explanation!).

The more general hyperglossary discussions are taking place on the old
glossary list (mail; body_of_message as
'subscribe vsns-pps-glossary <yourname>'. We may need to change this