[Note: this was cross-posted on Free Government Information]
The Journal Nature has a special issue about "Big Data" with articles by Clifford Lynch, Cory Doctorow, and others. The whole issue is worth reading and is freely available online for a short time.
In the area of government information, David Goldston, the former chief of staff of the House Committee on Science, writes about environmental data.
He notes that there is no set of environmental indicators that is regularly updated -- something akin to economic statistics -- and that a report by the Heinz Center on the State of the Nation's Ecosystems (www.heinzcenter.org/ecosystems) is chock-full of lists of subject and geographical areas for which few if any data exist.
He calls attention to the Data Quality Act, which, "has been anathema to environmental groups, which have seen it as a way to stymie regulation. And it has been primarily invoked by corporations questioning studies that raise alarms about their products." (The act is less than half a page in a public law of more seven hundred pages (Public Law 106-554 Sec. 515; Statutes at Large volume 114, pages 2763A-153 to 2763A-154, available online as plain text and as pdf).
He also says that, "Even when instrumentation is regularly funded, as some kinds of satellites are, money is often lacking to maintain the data or to make them sufficiently accessible or digestible."
The Stanford Libraries have sponsored a podcast in the New York Academy of Science's Science in the City series, featuring interviews with the curators of the exhibit Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe. That exhibit is also sponsored by the Stanford Libraries, and features a number of items from our collections.
--From The Stanford Report
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