In many instances, science is lagging behind the commercial world in the ability to infer meaning from data and take action based on that meaning.
In the 21st century, much of the vast volume of scientific data captured by new instruments on a 24/7 basis, along with information generated in the artificial worlds of computer models, is likely to reside forever in a live, substantially publicly accessible, curated state for the purposes of continued analysis. This analysis will result in the development of many new theories!
In Jim Gray’s last talk to the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board on January 11, 2007 [2], he described his vision of the fourth paradigm of scientific research. He outlined a two-part plea for the funding of tools for data capture, curation, and analysis, and for a communication and publication infrastructure. He argued for the establishment of modern stores for data and documents that are on par with traditional libraries.
Funding is needed to create a generic set of tools that covers the full range of activities—from capture and data validation through curation, analysis, and ultimately permanent archiving.