At the recent Beyond the PDF2 meeting, FORCE11 issued the "1K Challenge" : What would you do to make research communication for 1K that doesn't involve building another tool?
Note the emphasis on not building another tool. In my role as Executive Director of FORCE11 and the Principal Investigator of the Neuroscience Information Framework, charged with creating an inventory of existing resources of relevance to neuroscience, I have seen that the problem is not that we aren't investing in the creation of new tools. We have literally thousands of them. But that doesn't mean that they are 1) known to the community they are meant to serve; 2) usable by the community they are meant to serve; 3) useful to the community they are meant to serve. And, sometimes we don't need a tool at all, we need a set of best practices.
I was struck by the presentations in the "Making It Happen" and the "Vision" session, how often the subtext was "Use my tool and all your problems will be solved" and "If I only had another couple of million dollars, I could really do something special". I see this all the time in NIF, where someone comes up and offers their tool as a solution to all that ails me. But after you've heard that 100's of times and seen the usually dozens of similar resources, you tend to get a bit jaded. And I usually ask "have you considered working with this group or that group to figure out how you can coordinate or interoperate with each other?" I also tell them that the chances of getting those millions of dollars are very slim. So figuring out ways where we can work together more effectively to make our tools and approaches more known, usable and useful seems a worthy goal. The 1K challenge is a step in that direction. So I hope that you will take a look at the proposals and vote for your favorite. Voting is open until April 21st.