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  • eScience, eResearch and Computational Problem Solving

    This collection is included inLens: eScience, eResearch and Computational Problem Solving
    By: Jan E. Odegard

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This book is a very timely contribution. It will help researchers in every discipline grasp the opportunities brought about by the digital revolution. Never before has society undergone such rapid change in the ways in which it communicates and collaborates. This brings untold and, as yet, unimagined new avenues of research and new methods for pursuing research. It demands new thinking and changes in the ways we undertake research.

The digital revolution is probably the most dramatic revolution that humankind has ever experienced. Its foundation is the pervasive growth of digital communication and digital devices. The global reach of digital communication — the Internet, mobile phones and media distribution — means that it is arriving in every nation and reaching most parts of society simultaneously. By contrast, the industrialisation of economies continues to spread after 300 years and the invention and diffusion of printing, telephony and broadcasting is being absorbed and overtaken by the digital revolution.

The rapid changes in personal communication — mobile phones, texting, instant messaging, email, social networking, blogging and twittering — accelerate the propagation of ideas. Governments are opening their data for public scrutiny (President Obama’s and Prime Minister Brown’s declarations in 2009). Commerce is transformed with Web2.0 models of business: RFID tags in stores, eBay and Amazon trading and marketing wholly online, transactions for tax, payments, books and planning via web pages, and Google’s advertising market. In healthcare digital scanning is becoming routine, and will soon be followed by treatment tailored for your genomic variations. Digital cameras, digital video, digital TV and computer games are an intensely competitive global market.

Such a welter of activity is transforming the context of research. Researchers can now find, and be expected to find, an immense number of documents and many sources of data. They create huge volumes of data with faster and higher resolution instruments and generate more precise and larger-scale experiments with laboratory automation. They can use computational notations to describe and refine models precisely. They can access digital replicas of artefacts from museums and libraries — far more than they could ever visit in a lifetime of industrious research — creating virtual assemblies of rarities that could not be contemplated with the original objects. Sensors can be widely deployed to study the atmosphere, oceans and land; they can be worn to study physiology, predation, migration, mating and recreation. Volunteer researchers can gather data worldwide and respond automatically to opportunities and incidents. Global consortia can curate data and make it available for researchers, allowing thousands to collaborate in assembling knowledge and developing models to guide future decisions.

These changes pose new opportunities, raise new questions about research mores and may suggest revision of ethical and legal frameworks. Consequently, researchers need information to exploit the new opportunities, to engage in searches never before possible and to join in worldwide collaborations enabled by the new forms of communication. They will need to be agile and adventurous to thrive in the global competition. Creativity and insight will be amplified by the new methods. Leadership and charisma will assemble complementary skills from around the world to tackle the immense intellectual and practical challenges that face humankind today. Researchers will access the products and by-products of the global revolution as sources of evidence about human behaviour, sampling on scales never previously imagined. Those who engage will shape the way in which future research is done.

To do this, researchers must gain new skills in computational thinking and data-intensive research. This will be a dynamic process evolving as the pace of the digital revolution throws up new questions and delivers new capabilities. This book is an excellent snapshot; a launching pad from which to get started. Its readers will find key insights and authoritative references, but they must expect to move on to rapidly develop and shape the ideas needed for research in a connected world. They will be on the lookout for claims that appear to break the fundamental principles of distributed systems, but they will also enjoy the rewards of being at the forefront as new methods and technologies make significant advances in research possible.

The most important factor in the success of Homo sapiens is their ability to communicate and collaborate. The connected world enables this as never before, as both the speed and scale of collaboration have experienced a step change. Those with the knowledge, enthusiasm and agility to exploit this transformation will pioneer new forms of global behaviour. It is vital that researchers draw on this new resource for combining human talent to address the world’s most pressing challenges before it is too late.

When Sir John Taylor launched e-Science, he said, “e-Science is about global collaboration in key areas of science and the next generation of infrastructure that will enable it”. This book shows that Taylor’s assertion was a serious understatement. It shows that the new capabilities delivered by the connected world empower new kinds of human collaboration for all forms of thinking and doing. Research has a two-fold role: to pioneer these new ways of thinking and doing wherever it will achieve intellectual and practical advances, and to reflect on the deep changes that are underway in global society by recording the massive changes of the digital revolution and better understanding how they shape, and are shaped by, society. This book provides a window into research transformed by the digital revolution, revealing its benefits across disciplines and the added responsibilities that come with these new methods of working. It calls on researchers to observe, record and analyse the digital revolution. It is a valuable resource for researchers as they seize the opportunities brought by the digital age.

Malcolm Atkinson UK e-Science Envoy and Director of the e-Science Institute
David De Roure National Strategic Director for e-Social Science

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Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks

Module to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks