Review of Metazoa
Date Reviewed:May 22, 2001
Metazoa is a unique website that allows researchers to create a virtual notebook, publish protocols, and allows the user to manage projects with collaborators. The great part about this site is it allows the user to search through their own notebook and look for experiments, protocols, results or whatever your heart desires. If the user has any collaborators the user can set up a section for each collaborator to see. This allows you to share specific data with your collaborators in a password-protected manner, and still keep the rest of your notebook private. The interface is easy to use and the instructions allow you to set up your account and your notebook quickly. The big question is security. All information sent between the browser and the server is 128 bit-SSL-encrypted. The disk arrays are mirrored so all data stored on the server has a backup copy on a different disk. Also the server acts as gatekeepers so the data stored on the disks are not accessible directly to the Internet. The interface also comes with a library that allows the user to submit and search thousands of submitted protocols.
There are many strengths this website has to offer. A nice feature is the ability to search your own notebook. Also the ability to manage collaborations is an especially strong feature. The manage collaborations section allows the user to share data and protocols with people they are collaborating with. Also the library has many protocols if you have time to search through them.
One weakness is that trying to search for a protocol is extremely difficult. I tried to search for several different protocols that were there, but could not retrieve them directly. Another weakness is that the user should be able to get into their notebook whenever necessary, I tried several times over 2 days and server seemed to have been down. This is extremely inconvenient and a tremendous weakness of data storage over the Internet. Also the protocols available are limited to submissions by registered users that could be a weakness because it could limit the number of protocols in the pool.
In this respect the web site is excellent. Navigating from page to page is fast. Using DSL I hardly had to wait at all for anything.
Ease of Use:
The website is pretty easy to use, with the exception of searching through the protocols. The rest is relatively simple and self explanatory
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Overall Evaluation 1-5 (5 being excellent):