Biological Informatics question

Gail E. Kampmeier gkamp at UIUC.EDU
Tue Jan 30 11:21:06 CST 2001

I think we should give the molecular biologists the term "moboinformatics"
and reclaim "bioinformatics" for ourselves!


>I believe it may be too late (or too early) to reclaim the terms
>"bioinformatics" to mean "information about biology" in general as the root
>terms would imply, but I need to point out how strange it seems
>linguistically. In linguistics (most languages) the more general, less
>specific, normal, base form of a concept is generally "unmarked" meaning
>there are no added morphological embellishments to set it apart. The
>unmarked form is shorter. Only the specialized forms of concepts, the
>special cases, get extra morphological markers. e.g. "blue" vs "royal blue"
>and even "aquamarine". From that, you would think that "bioinformatics"
>would stay the general concept and if you wanted to talk about information
>about genetics/protomics you would need to say "molecular bioinformatics."
>I think the takeover of the term was unavoidable, however, because of a
>different and more powerful force in setting markedness. That is frequency
>of use. Concepts that are used more frequently become shorter words.
>Molecular bioinformatics has been in the news (and Wall Street) a great
>deal more than the more general term "bioinformatics - information about
>biology". People and news print editors quickly got tied of saying
>"molecular bioinformatics" and used the abbreviated form instead. The only
>way to reverse the trend would be to use the original meaning more often in
>the press. I don't see that happening but at least scientists should keep
>aware of the distinctions so that we don't get confused about which we are
>I am sure I've succeeded in making this seem much more reasonable!? Right?
>Bryan Heidorn
>   P. Bryan Heidorn    Graduate School of Library and Information Science
>   pheidorn at   University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign MC-493
>   (V)217/ 244-7792    501 East Daniel St., Champaign, IL  61820-6212
>   (F)217/ 244-3302

Gail E. Kampmeier, Research Entomologist, Illinois Natural History Survey,
Box 5 NSRC, MC-637, 1101 W. Peabody, Urbana, IL 61801 USA
ph. 217-333-2824; fax 217-333-6784; email: gkamp at

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