Wiki Enabling ChemSpider and an Intro to “Wikinomics”

18 Jul

You’ll likely have noticed recently me talking about books I read on this blog. My friends and colleagues call me a Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink for what that means. I generally get “connected” to books to read by other connectors. My most recent read, and directly connected to the future intention of ChemSpider is “Wikinomics – How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything”

For those of you who have not managed to stay up to date with some of the blog postings I want to reiterate part of the future mission for ChemSpider. Our intention is to Wiki-enable ChemSpider and allow people to add information to each and every chemical structure on the database. We have already enabled the curation of the data on ChemSpider as blogged previously (1,2,3). This is one level of community participation…check the results out here. Please keep curating..

What I like about the book Wikinomics is the the historical overview (of a VERY SHORT history) of how mass collaboration has affected the way we share information, how collaboration has impacted the world of software development (and how corporations are benefiting from the effort) and how technology in the time of Web 2.0 allows news to spread quickly and help people. This collaboration has given a lot of benefits to research, pharmaceuticals, and even to the world of mining, a fascinating story. I preferred the first half of the book and it did get a little preachy and repetitive but nevertheless is a great read. By the way…the author is Anthony D. Williams….no relation to the author of this blog…that would be Antony J. Williams. But hey, if people want to talk about me as a supporter of the world of Wiki then go for it…

At present the registration and structure deposition systems on ChemSpider are being completed and, fingers crossed, you’ll see it very shortly. The question then is what could mass collaboration mean in terms of extending the information associated with the chemical structures on the database. Imagine the addition of reaction details, images, connections to other websites, etc. Just imagine…and we’ll see if we can make it happen.


About tony

Antony (Tony) J. Williams received his BSc in 1985 from the University of Liverpool (UK) and PhD in 1988 from the University of London (UK). His PhD research interests were in studying the effects of high pressure on molecular motions within lubricant related systems using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. He moved to Ottawa, Canada to work for the National Research Council performing fundamental research on the electron paramagnetic resonance of radicals trapped in single crystals. Following his postdoctoral position he became the NMR Facility Manager for Ottawa University. Tony joined the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York as their NMR Technology Leader. He led the laboratory to develop quality control across multiple spectroscopy labs and helped establish walk-up laboratories providing NMR, LC-MS and other forms of spectroscopy to hundreds of chemists across multiple sites. This included the delivery of spectroscopic data to the desktop, automated processing and his initial interests in computer-assisted structure elucidation (CASE) systems. He also worked with a team to develop the worlds’ first web-based LIMS system, WIMS, capable of allowing chemical structure searching and spectral display. With his developing cheminformatic skills and passion for data management he left corporate America to join a small start-up company working out of Toronto, Canada. He joined ACD/Labs as their NMR Product Manager and various roles, including Chief Science Officer, during his 10 years with the company. His responsibilities included managing over 50 products at one time prior to developing a product management team, managing sales, marketing, technical support and technical services. ACD/Labs was one of Canada’s Fast 50 Tech Companies, and Forbes Fast 500 companies in 2001. His primary passions during his tenure with ACD/Labs was the continued adoption of web-based technologies and developing automated structure verification and elucidation platforms. While at ACD/Labs he suggested the possibility of developing a public resource for chemists attempting to integrate internet available chemical data. He finally pursued this vision with some close friends as a hobby project in the evenings and the result was the ChemSpider database ( Even while running out of a basement on hand built servers the website developed a large community following that eventually culminated in the acquisition of the website by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Tony joined the organization, together with some of the other ChemSpider team, and became their Vice President of Strategic Development. At RSC he continued to develop cheminformatics tools, specifically ChemSpider, and was the technical lead for the chemistry aspects of the Open PHACTS project (, a project focused on the delivery of open data, open source and open systems to support the pharmaceutical sciences. He was also the technical lead for the UK National Chemical Database Service ( and the RSC lead for the PharmaSea project ( attempting to identify novel natural products from the ocean. He left RSC in 2015 to become a Computational Chemist in the National Center of Computational Toxicology at the Environmental Protection Agency where he is bringing his skills to bear working with a team on the delivery of a new software architecture for the management and delivery of data, algorithms and visualization tools. The “Chemistry Dashboard” was released on April 1st, no fooling, at, and provides access to over 700,000 chemicals, experimental and predicted properties and a developing link network to support the environmental sciences. Tony remains passionate about computer-assisted structure elucidation and verification approaches and continues to publish in this area. He is also passionate about teaching scientists to benefit from the developing array of social networking tools for scientists and is known as the ChemConnector on the networks. Over the years he has had adjunct roles at a number of institutions and presently enjoys working with scientists at both UNC Chapel Hill and NC State University. He is widely published with over 200 papers and book chapters and was the recipient of the Jim Gray Award for eScience in 2012. In 2016 he was awarded the North Carolina ACS Distinguished Speaker Award.
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Posted by on July 18, 2007 in Vision


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