Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bomedicine in the Post-Information Age: 7 of 7

This is the seventh of 7 blogs on biomedicine in the post-information age.

In the post-information age, there is universal access to information, computational power, and the world-wide communications infrastructure.

The first point I've been trying to make in this series of 7 blogs is that the "work" of the post-information age is to derive meaning from our ubiquitous information. The second point I've been trying to make is that individuals, rather than institutions, are in the best position to make the most rapid and the most startling advances in this new age.

Throughout this series of blogs, I've mentioned data annotation, without explaining what I meant. In its simplest form, data annotation is adding metadata (data descriptors) to the data in a document. The purpose of adding metadata is to make the data specific. So a date can be an item on a calendar, or a social event, or a type of fruit. Metadata allows you to specify your intent.

If a date is a fruit, then it is a type of organism:

ID : 42345
PARENT ID : 4719
RANK : species
GC ID : 1
MGC ID : 1
SCIENTIFIC NAME : Phoenix dactylifera
SYNONYM : Phoenix dactylifera L.
Phoenix dactylifera
cellular organisms

The date grows on a date tree (Phoenix dactylifera) and inherits the properties of its ancestors. The organism ancestry (phylogeny) of the data was obtained at my web page, by entering Phoenix dactylifera in the query box.

By using metadata that is specified in a classification or an ontology, we can use annotated data to draw inferences that are beyond the intent of the original document. By merging annotated documents (a product of the information age), and applying post-information age data analysis tools, we can achieve a great deal.

The new age starts with data specification.

- Copyright (C) 2008 Jules J. Berman

key words: semantics, semantic web, RDF, biomedical informatics
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