Data makes the world/universe go round
One of the main by products of digitisation and the internet has been an explosion in data. Everything on the web can be, and normally is, tracked, while applying technology to existing disciplines such as scientific research results in a huge amount of new data that needs to be distributed, collected, analysed and transformed into useful information.
I’ve seen two great client examples that illustrate this point over the last week, showing the importance of data to making the world – and in one case universe, go round. Both take a lighter look at a subject that can be complex and frankly, a bit boring, using humour to demonstrate its vital value.
The first aims to address a real injustice. Everyone talks about the importance of data to business today but overlooks the role of those that make it flow – database administrators (DBAs) and other people that work with databases. So software company Red Gate has set out to do something for this vital, but neglected group by sending one of them into space. For real, not on a simulator. The global DBA in Space competition will put one lucky person on a suborbital space flight worth over $100,000 through a sci-fi competition and subsequent X Factor-style vote off. There’s been over 265,000 views of the competition videos and pages already and there’s still time to enter – though you need to hurry as it closes at 12 noon GMT on Tuesday 22 November.
When it comes to scientific research, experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider are generating huge amounts of data. Research networks such as GÉANT are integral to distributing this to scientists around the world quickly to enable real-time collaboration. And to highlight this tweets from the twitter feed at the recent SC11 supercomputing conference were turned into a musical melody through the combination of grid computing, high speed research networks and sonification. Sonification works by assigning a note pitch to individual bits of written information (in this case letters), creating a musical scale and essentially turning data into a tune. It has already been used to turn seismic information from volcanoes into music to make it easier to predict eruptions and offers a completely new way of looking at (or rather listening to) data.
Data is all around us, but as these two examples show it doesn’t need to be bland and faceless but something we can relate to easily wherever it is located – on earth or even going into space.
- Boring BOFHs want cash prize more than space flight (go.theregister.com)
- Data Traffic Flow Demonstrations for Transatlantic HPC Research at SC11 (insidehpc.com)
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