Friday, March 5, 2010

Data, data everywhere

A recent article in The Economist gives us a reason for existence (if we needed one!)

"WHEN the Sloan Digital Sky Survey started work in 2000, its telescope in New Mexico collected more data in its first few weeks than had been amassed in the entire history of astronomy. Now, a decade later, its archive contains a whopping 140 terabytes of information. A successor, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, due to come on stream in Chile in 2016, will acquire that quantity of data every five days.
Such astronomical amounts of information can be found closer to Earth too. Wal-Mart, a retail giant, handles more than 1m customer transactions every hour, feeding databases estimated at more than 2.5 petabytes—the equivalent of 167 times the books in America’s Library of Congress. Facebook, a social-networking website, is home to 40 billion photos. And decoding the human genome involves analysing 3 billion base pairs—which took ten years the first time it was done, in 2003, but can now be achieved in one week" ....

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1 comment:

Tom Kaun said...

Here's Mike Eisenberg's comment about the article

"Send this out to every parent, every school board member, every other teacher in the school. Make SURE that the Library Information and Technology Program is an essential part of managing all forms of information in your schools. Focus on the electronic, digital, virtual, and online. Yes, let print take a backseat. Right now, the school website and the online article databases are more valuable for subject area curricula. (NOTE: I'm not talking about reading, fiction, biography, easy books for very young kids, etc. I'm talking about the non-fiction and print reference collections).

Oh - and don't forget textbooks! I know, I know, many teacher-librarians hate the thought of it. But - what is the #1 information resource used in schools? The textbook! The Library Information & Technology Program should be responsible for ALL information resources in the school. Therefore we MUST be involved with seeing that textbooks are selected and managed effectively and efficiently. Then, we can even propose alternatives to textbooks - readings of articles combined from various article databases.

In fact, why don't we have electronic reserves in K-12 the way we do at colleges and universities? As a college teacher, my most valuable instructional tool is the eReserve system offered from my university library. Why don't any of our library systems offer an eReserve module?

Think - how can we spend our precious time and effort in the most efficient and effective way to ensure that all students are effective users and producers of ideas and information?"