Lab wiki

ALA launches LabAutopedia online automation reference guide

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CHICAGO—For the longest time it was coming, and now it has arrived. Teased in various media in the months leading up to its launch, the Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA) unveiled on Dec. 9 LabAutopedia, an online reference and tutorial guide serving all branches of the field of laboratory automation. Modeled after the popular Wikipedia, LabAutopedia will invite people in the automation community to add information ranging from terms and definitions to complete white papers with the intent of opening up the flow of information in the field.

"ALA is the ideal organization to spearhead an initiative of this magnitude," says ALA President Jim Sterling, Ph.D., Keck Graduate Institute of Life Sciences. "LabAutopedia is a dynamic wiki that is all about contributorship...we believe LabAutopedia can and will play a significant role in accelerating the growth of our field."

Prior to launch, ALA took an interesting tack of hyping the wiki with a mysterious marketing campaign that only mentioned "it is coming." During that time, ALA commissioned a number of articles from leading members of the automation community, so the wiki would have a solid core of information from day one.

ALA members Mark Russo and Steve Hamilton acted as editors for the recruiting process.

"But their role wasn't to edit contributions to the site, which runs against the idea of what a wiki is," notes Greg Dummer, ALA executive director. "Their role was to do research to get content so that when we launched, it would be somewhat full."

To kick off the launch, ALA took advantage of social networking media, including a LabAutopedia music video posted on YouTube. Other efforts included e-mail promotion, as well as direct mail of a handful of cards with a 20-second sound chip that played music from the YouTube video. ALA hit the mark, as within the first month, the wiki had received more than 100,000 hits.

"Using social media for education and outreach has been a major push for us in the past 12 to 24 months," Dummer notes. "LabAutopedia is just the latest example of that." DDN

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