Sage Congress Recap

Despite my best efforts, our march towards the 2012 Sage Congress and launch of Synapse beta turned into a chaotic crunch during the final months and weeks as all software projects seem to inevitably do.  I still can’t believe I encouraged check-ins from the plane and Starbucks the day before my demo. There’s just something that’s so ethereal about software… it seems as if it should spring to life beautifully formed as soon as you think it. Alas, we still have loads of bugs, features we wish we had, and crippled build system that needs to be rebuilt.

With a bit of time to decompress I can now say I’m really proud of how far our team got, and the good reception we got from so many at the Congress. My full talk is now posted on the Congress website, including the nice bit in the R Studio portion of my demo where I am completely defeated by a podium with a slanted surface and no lip at the bottom.  I guess Isaac Newton wasn’t happy with my quote and the laws of motion took revenge.

We are starting to get real users kicking the tires now which is great, but also is highlighting all the work left to do.  May is now bug fixing time: no more new features until we solidify what we have. It’s also planning time at Sage, as we set development priorities for the summer.  If you dig into Synapse and have ideas of how to improve the system please let us know.  Even better, if you can write code we are looking to hire good software engineers.  We’ll also be taking steps to start pushing code into the open source community.  The past year things have not felt well-formed enough to nucleate any external contributions, but we’re now seeing signs that is starting to change.

In closing, my favorite talks of the Congress:

  • Larry Lessing on Ingredients for Innovation – I which I could speak half this well.  A powerful talk on copyright issues leading into larger issues of corruption in our political system.
  • Adrien Treuille on Crowdsourcing in Science – Wish I could think of something half as cool as his Fold It and Eterna games to engage users.  Will start by taking his advice on the magic of forums.
  • Jaime Heywood on Patients Like Me and new ways to think about disease research.  Great approach to science, and a cool technology platform.

About Michael Kellen

I've spent my career working at the intersection of science and technology. Currently I lead the technology team at Sage Bionetworks, but this blog contains my own thoughts.
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