Monthly Archives: July 2007

Molly Millions sez

One of the most enduring lines in William Gibson’s oeuvre is

You can’t let the little pricks generation-gap you.
(Molly, in Neuromancer, pg 59)

–a passage I keep handy for topical application (and used as the epigram for a prescient 1999 posting [alas, the graphs link doesn’t work]).
Well, gappage happens. As a non-cellphone user I’m (happily) out of a bunch of loops anyway, but at my recent high school reunion I witnessed several of my contemporaries being taught the wonders of text messaging, and was content to adopt the anthropologist-watching-bizarre-behavior stance. The second cartoon in a Language Log posting today seems a balm.

Gigabytes per second

Those with geospatial and visualization interests will nod their heads right off as they read Peter Brantley’s summary of “The Sensing Earth”, via O’Reilly Radar. Some bits:

Everywhere I look in the natural sciences, there is a sudden, significant maturing of large-scale distributed science projects that involve active real-time sensing of one of more aspects of the physical planet and its environs…

The insight that my friend Brian brought back from the ISDE conference [5th International Symposium on Digital Earth] is that there is an increasingly visible “bright line of digital information” that — like a great river — cuts between two wholly different ranges of data. On one side, there is already extant (either actively digitized, or digitally prepared) data gathered, harvested, and presented for discovery and use. This is the land of Google and other search engines, grabbing the world’s available online data, indexing it, mining it, integrating it with other data sources, and provide compelling windows into a comparatively static and viscous digitized world. That’s where a good measure of CS/EE and IR attention rests now.

The other side of the Bright Line are the data lying latent upon the earth, sky, and space, sleeping quietly until they are woken with sensing, and now flooding real-time like a sea, imminently bursting forth across our international network of high speed science grids.

There are tremendous opportunities here, new ways of thinking about data, about how to develop usable interfaces on a wide range of devices. GEOSS [Global Earth Observation System of Systems] requires us to rethink systems design from the ground up. Scales are refactored: hundreds of large-scale distributed systems, with thousands of sensors linked in community networks, each producing gigabytes or more per second, continuously delivered, and susceptible to combination.

GEOSS projects are seeking radically new forms of systems architectures for data management, on the very edge of science. All of these projects are a click away.

Let’s engage.