"Unless something real and practical is done in the near future, it will become impossible to find or use scientific data with the resulting loss of time and money for those who need to repeat experiments."The future alluded to is the one in which we now live. A follow-up letter, "Computer readable analytical chemical data - comments on a critical need" in Trends in Anal. Chem. discusses this further.
I was put in mind of these articles at the recent German Conference on Chemoinformatics (GCC2011) in Goslar, when (a) I met Steve Heller, and (b) in Prof Johnny Gasteiger's talk, he highlighted this same problem as one of the outstanding challenges that we should be sorting out. PMR of course has been discussing this issue for some time, but it's the first time I'd heard Prof Gasteiger mention it.
Since I'm on the subject of the GCC, it was good to meet several people who I know through the Open Babel mailing lists, and in particular Michael Banck, who plays a major role in curating chemistry software for Debian. For example, see this list of packages. His talk is available on Lanyrd.
In a recent blogpost I mentioned that Open Access makes it easy to redistribute copies of papers, and I wondered why OA journals don't take advantage of this. Well, it turns out they are - Jan Kuras of Chemistry Central was giving out nice colour copies of the Open Babel paper printed in booklet form, along with similar booklets summarising the three series they have recently published on RDF, PubChem3D and PMR's Symposium.
And finally here's a picture of me trying to steal a pretzel from one of the FIZ-Chemie Berlin Award winners, Dr. Volker Dirk Hähnke, who gave a very interesting talk on using sequence alignment methods to align a string representation of a chemical graph:
* You may know of Steve from such string representations as the InChI. Incidentally, I thought I was blazing a trail putting my talks on the web, but check out Steve's page.