Recent advances in life sciences technology have dramatically changed the research style from hypothesis-driven research (bottom-up style) to data-driven research (top-down style). Current ‘omics’ projects have produced vast amounts of data that have been stored in various online databases. Simultaneously, many types of web tools have been developed to analyze the stored data. Some of them are annually featured in the Nucleic Acid Research
’s database issue and web server issue [1
]. Although the increase in available resources (databases and tools) has promoted life sciences research, this situation causes the following difficulties for researchers, especially ‘wet’ biologists: (i) What kinds of resources exist? (ii) Where are they? (iii) How can the resources be used and combined? and (iv) How does one interpret a result? To solve these issues, development of educational content as well as a system for navigation of web resources is required [3
XML) have led to the development of interactive and dynamic web services. This type of content would be better expressed in an animated environment rather than in a document. As a similar example, educational videos have been distributed using videotapes, CDs/DVDs and the Internet for >30 years in some clinical fields because it was excessively difficult to describe an actual procedure in writing [4–7
]. However, their creation and distribution costs were high.
Rapid improvements in recent years in computer hardware, software and the Internet have reduced the publishing cost of multimedia content. A personal computer with a high-end CPU, extensive memory and large-capacity storage space enables users to produce and encode videos with relative ease. The latest releases of major OS packages include software for recording, editing and encoding videos, such as Windows Live Movie Maker (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, WA, USA) and QuickTime (Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA, USA). The reasonable price of such software reduces the installation cost, and its user friendliness reduces the time required. In addition to the reduction in production cost, broadband networks have also reduced the distribution cost of multimedia content and have allowed experts to readily distribute video content in their field to anyone with an Internet connection. Many recent web browsers are by default equipped with video players, such as the Adobe Flash player (Adobe Systems Incorporated, San Jose, CA, USA) and QuickTime player (Apple Inc.); thus, one can easily view a video on web browser by simply clicking the play button.
In this article, we describe online video repositories for educational purposes, worldwide movements of distributing video tutorials created by major database and tool developers, and our recent activity in Japan. In addition, we propose distributing how-to videos to the developers and users of databases and tools to promote their usability and contribute to the scientific community.