Chempedia: A Social Medium for Chemical Information

I'd like to thank all of those who have participated in alpha testing of the new Chempedia - by setting up an account through the streamlined OpenID-based system, contributing a substance name, registering a substance, reviewing a substance name, or simply verifying that the service works as expected on their systems.

One question I get asked, even by those who have used the alpha site, relates to the purpose of Chempedia. I thought I'd answer that question here.

Chempedia aims to fundamentally change for the better the way chemical information is created, managed, and distributed. It will do so through a free and open Web-based platform combining the best aspects of open access, new social media, and peer review.

By design, Chempedia places people at the center of the action. But more on that later.

The key technical component of this new system is a free and open chemical substance registry. The purpose of this registry is fivefold: (1) to provide a short, numerical "Global Substance Identifier" (GSID) that can be used to quickly and unambiguously identify substances in any medium; (2) to connect substances with existing chemical information sources through high-quality synonyms; (3) to provide a publicly-accessible canonical URI for every substance in the registry; (4) to offer the capability for any interested party to quickly register a new substance on demand and free of charge; and (5) to offer powerful tools for locating high-quality resources pertaining to individual substances.

Each of these five capabilities are essential in creating the open, linked chemical information systems that will be central to chemistry's future.

The Web has changed the rules for information creation and distribution; it's time to embrace this change in chemistry.