Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dying from Too Much Data

Death by data. Information overload threatens to kill the quality of research.

"We are starting to die from data," said a science professor quoted in an article in the June 23 Chronicle of Higher Education (subscribers only). The criminal is digital technology, churning out an ocean of information making it tough for scientists to stay afloat in their own field.

Librarians are expected to provide the needed help by categorizing and archiving the data, and according to the article, librarians are already doing that at Purdue, Johns Hopkins, and UC-San Diego.

Challenges:
  • Vast data troves to be processed
  • Poorly organized data
  • Unsecure storage
  • The need to protect proprietary information
  • "Small Science" data is vast but little attention given to it
  • The players (scientists, librarians, scholars) don't yet know their roles
  • Finding funding
The old model of a Librarian (1.0) as a walking encyclopedia of knowledge is ludicrous and impossible in today's world. Librarians of today and tomorrow need 2 skills:
  • The ability to organize mountains of data
  • The ability to find small units of data hidden in an ocean of information in a short time frame


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