The pervasive metaphor of genome
“Genome” used to be a technical word used by scientists. It has become a metaphor, a paradigm of today.
The Human Genome Project was an unprecedented effort to carefully and patiently map the information of the Human Genome.
It refers to an inductive approach that rather than modeling and developing theories about the Genome, it adopted an inductive approach, collecting all available information and processing it. It’s THE classical big data project.
What is interesting is that Genome has now become a metaphor, extending the approach to research efforts in very different fields.
For instance, the Music Genome Project described all the possible features of the published music, and led to the creation of the Pandora music services. As Wikipedia describes,
A given song is represented by a vector (a list of attributes) containing approximately 400 “genes” (analogous to trait-determining genes for organisms in the field of genetics). Each gene corresponds to a characteristic of the music, for example, gender of lead vocalist, level of distortion on the electric guitar, type of background vocals, etc. Rock and pop songs have 150 genes, rap songs have 350, and jazz songs have approximately 400.
I now came across the Startup Genome Project , which analyzes a large amount of variables for understanding “the secret of success” of startups.
What these project share is an inductive method. Little theory, but focus on getting lots of data, and see what patterns emerge.
This is the new scientific method that Chris Anderson referred to in Wired. It’s extending from genetics to many other fields.