Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Free e-book "The Fourth Paradigm"

Some of you might be interested in "The Fourth Paradigm", which you can either download for free or purchase (the free version is here). From the Foreword:

This book is about a new, fourth paradigm for science based on data intensive computing. In such scientific research, we are at a stage of development that is analogous to when the printing press was invented. Printing took a thousand years to develop and evolve into the many forms it takes today. Using computers to gain understanding from data created and stored in our electronic data stores will likely take decades—or less. The contributing authors in this volume have done an extraordinary job of helping to refine an understanding of this new paradigm from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

In many instances, science is lagging behind the commercial world in the ability to infer meaning from data and take action based on that meaning. However, commerce is comparatively simple: things that can be described by a few numbers or a name are manufactured and then bought and sold. Scientific disciplines cannot easily be encapsulated in a few understandable numbers and names, and most scientific data does not have a high enough economic value to fuel more rapid development of scientific discovery.


Ron Larsen said...

It's a pretty interesting book. I have 2 copies of the printed book that are available for loan to anyone interested.

Geof Bowker said...

I've read this online - but would love to read through the print copy when I get back to town - so I'll touch you up then Ron. There's some sadness about the volume - the Jim Gray who inspired it was the one who occasioned the Google search last year.

I've been trying to work out for a while what Tony Hey at Microsoft has as his full agenda. He was head of eScience in the UK before moving to Microsoft - there is some agenda to put MS at the heart of cyberscience infrastructure but I don't know how effective they will be given the feeling in assorted scientific communities about the Empire.