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“A Deluge of Data Shapes a New Era in Computing”

fourth-paradigm-coverThe New York Times on eScience:

“In a speech given just a few weeks before he was lost at sea off the California coast in January 2007, Jim Gray, a database software pioneer and a Microsoft researcher, sketched out an argument that computing was fundamentally transforming the practice of science …

“In computing circles, Dr. Gray’s crusade was described as, ‘It’s the data, stupid.’  It was a point of view that caused him to break ranks with the supercomputing nobility, who for decades focused on building machines that calculated at picosecond intervals …

“’The advent of inexpensive high-bandwidth sensors is transforming every field from data-poor to data-rich,’ Edward Lazowska, a computer scientist and director of the University of Washington eScience Institute, said in an e-mail message.  The resulting transformation is occurring in the social sciences, too.

“’As recently as five years ago,’ Dr. Lazowska said, ‘if you were a social scientist interested in how social groups form, evolve and dissipate, you would hire 30 college freshmen for $10 an hour and interview them in a focus group.’

“’Today,’ he added, ‘you have real-time access to the social structuring and restructuring of 100 million Facebook users.’”

Read the complete article here.