PubChem and Wikipedia represent two of the largest open repositories of chemical information in the world. And they complement each other very nicely. PubChem contains mainly low-level chemical structure information whereas Wikipedia contains free-text descriptions of chemical compounds in the form of compound monographs.
Both services offer permission and access to copy and reuse their contents. But neither service is, by itself, nearly as useful as it could be.
Why not mash them up?
To my knowledge, Chempedia represents the first publicly-facing database of compounds to incorporate Wikipedia's collection of organic compound monographs. And it's one of the few cheminformatics services to make use of free-text descriptions generated by individual chemists.
Chempedia has been somewhat selective about the compounds it includes. To date, it has spidered over 2,500 monographs, combining them with over 300,000 of the most interesting compounds from PubChem. Not every Chempedia.net molecule has a monograph, but now there's a tool that can actually make that absence apparent.
Chempedia is both an experiment and a service. It's immediately useful for anyone in the business of making or doing things with organic molecules. It's created several unexpected moments of "Oh, that's actually a useful molecule!" It also will serve as a platform to test some of the ideas discussed in Depth-First over the last year or so on the advantages of the Web for collaboration in chemistry.
Stay tuned for more details about how Chempedia was created and some of its applications in chemistry.