Tales from the underfunded cousin of DevOps, while trying to get research done.

In a recent opinion article in Frontiers Genetics, Antony Vincent and Steve Charette argued that using bioinformatics tools doesn't make you a bioinformatician, the same as driving a car doesn't make you a mechanic. For cars, that certainly is true. At least these days it is. About a hundred years back, when the technology used wasn't as established and there was more of a hand-crafted touch to each and every car, I would argue that while driving a car didn't necessarily make you a mechanic, being a mechanic (or at least knowing how to perform some of the more common maintenance tasks on your car) made it much more likely the car actually would get anywhere.

For many areas of bioinformatics, I would argue that that's pretty much where we are right now. Mick Watson made the good point that being a mechanic doesn't actually allow you to design and build cars in the first place. This is true again, for a certain level of technical refinement and finesse. One hundred and fifty years back, if you wanted to drive a car, you probably were best off if you could design, build and maintain it yourself.

So, building on the car analogy, we can see that the more technology matures, the more accessible it is to less technical users.


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