by Angela Guess
Mike Ashenfelder of the Library of Congress recently discussed how Big Data is spurring the dawn of the "super researcher." He writes, "In separate 'big data' presentations at the Digital Preservation 2012 meeting, Myron Guttmann of the National Science Foundation and Leslie Johnston of the Library of Congress described scenarios that seemed futuristic and fantastic but were in fact present-day realities. Both presenters spoke about researchers using powerful new processing tools to distill information from massive pools of data."
Ashenfelder goes on, "Imagine, say, a researcher gathering social-science and health information about a troubled area of Africa. Using her home computer she connects online to a high-performance processing station, which, in turn, accesses repositories of medical, atmospheric, political and demographic data. She analyzes the data, using special visualization tools, arrives at some fact-based conclusions and generates several possible courses of action. Professional researchers, particularly in the scientific community, can do that now. And it won’t be long before advanced research capabilities such as filtering and analyzing data on a large scale — or data-driven research — will be available outside of the professional-research community."