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
GENBANK COMMON NAME : date palm
SYNONYM : Phoenix dactylifera L.
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
Science is not a collection of facts. Science is what facts teach us; what we can learn about our universe, and ourselves, by deductive thinking. From observations of the night sky, made without the aid of telescopes, we can deduce that the universe is expanding, that the universe is not infinitely old, and why black holes exist. Without resorting to experimentation or mathematical analysis, we can deduce that gravity is a curvature in space-time, that the particles that compose light have no mass, that there is a theoretical limit to the number of different elements in the universe, and that the earth is billions of years old. Likewise, simple observations on animals tell us much about the migration of continents, the evolutionary relationships among classes of animals, why the nuclei of cells contain our genetic material, why certain animals are long-lived, why the gestation period of humans is 9 months, and why some diseases are rare and other diseases are common. In “Armchair Science”, the reader is confronted with 129 scientific mysteries, in cosmology, particle physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine. Beginning with simple observations, step-by-step analyses guide the reader toward solutions that are sometimes startling, and always entertaining. “Armchair Science” is written for general readers who are curious about science, and who want to sharpen their deductive skills.