Back in 2006 we wrote enthusiastically about the first issue of the online Journal of Visualized Experiments — the aim of which is to publish video films of experimental work to help apply laboratory protocols. A “YouTube for test tubes”, as it was then called.
Since then JoVE has published more than 200 videos of laboratory procedures. Now (says Nature, 4 Sept, p 13), the content of JoVE will be indexed in the MEDLINE base and thus available through the PubMed search engine. An interesting policy move from the side of the National Library of Medicine, because it means that the video format is now being endorsed on a par with text articles as an acknowledged form of publication (cf. how NLM last year began to endorse blogs as publications, see earlier post here).
JoVE is a potentially great source for exhibitions on contemporary biomedicine, either for direct use, or indirectly, as an inspiration for producing new videos for public outreach of laboratory practices. The videos demonstrate how the laboratory has its roots in manual labour, and are a reminder about how thoroughly materially grounded biomedical practices are.
These and similar video repositories are a great complement to ethnographic description of laboratory practice and may contribute further to the rejuvenation of studies of the laboratory as a knowledge production space that Dominique Vinck and others are currently involved in (see, for example the special issue on laboratory studies in Revue d’anthropologie des connaissances, vol. 1 (n° 2), 2007).