Home Mememoir: A Better Wiki For Science

Mememoir: A Better Wiki For Science

Thanks to successful projects like Wikipedia or Wikitravel, wikis have quickly become a standard tool on the Internet, but in academia, the anonymity often associated with publishing in wikis is a key factor that works against them. Tracking down the exact history of changes in a wiki entry can be a convoluted process, yet being able to exactly attribute a certain statement to one writer is at the heart of the academic enterprise. Mememoir aims to provide a wiki that is heavily focused on authorship and can help to dispel the prejudices scientists have against publishing in a wiki-like format.

Wikis in Science

Mememoir is a completely new development and as of now, its only deployment is in the form of the WikiGenes wiki. Both Mememoir and Wikigenes, a database of literature about genetic information, were created by Robert Hoffmann, a fellow at Society in Science in Switzerland and a visiting scientist at MIT.

For scientists in academia, publications are the lifeblood of their careers. Having published in a wiki is not going to persuade a tenure track committee anytime soon, but the systems that Mememoir puts in place might just make those contributions stand out a bit more. Besides attribution, Mememoir also gives its users the ability to rates authors and their contributions.

The developers are still looking at their options for possibly open-sourcing the code behind Mememoir. As Robert Hoffmann pointed out to us, the project will look at its options at a later time and is mostly focused on running the Wikigenes project for now.


The information in WikiGenes itself was based on iHop, another project by Hoffman (and not the infamous chain of pancake houses). The idea behind iHop is that information about a single gene can often be dispersed over hundreds of different academic papers, which makes finding and synthesizing all this data extremely hard. IHop used algorithms to parse all this information and bring it together in one database, which was then used to seed WikiGenes.

According to Hoffmann, the idea behind WikiGenes is that it will combat this dispersal of information in the first place, as scientists can enter their research results into the database directly.

Trust and Authorship

WikiTrust, which rates authors on Wikipedia according to an algorithm is trying to do something similar for all of the Wikipedia, but Mememoir takes this to a more personal level. Both systems are, of course, potentially fraught with problems, but it will be interesting to see if scientists will warm up to the wiki model.

We would really like to see Hoffmann and his team open up the code to Mememoir, as the wiki itself is a highly capable piece of code that looks flexible enough to power any kind of wiki – academic or not. In testing it, it turned out one of the easiest to use wikis we have seen so far and it could surely benefit a lot of different projects in the long run. If you would like to see it in action, the project has create a short screen-cast that you can see here.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.