October 23, 2004

Their GO-mark'd love

I'm at the SOFG-2004 meeting ("Standards and Ontologies for Functional Genomics"). The lead-off plenary was given by Carole Goble. Her abstract, quoted in full below, may amuse some of you.

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair genomics, where we lay our scene,
(One, comforted by its logic's rigour,
Claims ontology for the realm of pure,
The other, with bless'ed scientist's vigour,
Acts hastily on models that endure),
When "being" drives a fly-man to blaspheme.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
Researchers to unlock the book of life;
Whole misadventured piteous overthrows
Can with their work bury their clans' strife.
The fruitful passage of their GO-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their studies sage,
Which, united, yield ontologies undreamed-of,
Is now the half hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.

Humanists, pleased that a professor of computer science is re-phrasing Shakespeare for her abstract, may forgive the mis-archaisms ("bless'ed"?) and the metrical misfortunes. Those in the biz will get the in-group references (e.g. who the "fly-man" is, and where the blasphemy took place). For those on the periphery of the field, it may help to know that GO is the Gene Ontology. And the Montagues are the AI and semantic web types, while the Capulets are the life scientists. Or maybe it's the other way around.


Posted by Mark Liberman at October 23, 2004 08:59 PM