Blown To Bits

Google Opens a Door to Competition

Monday, December 22nd, 2008 by Harry Lewis

Google, whose mission is to organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible, has decided not to organize and make accessible the world’s scientific data. In the interests of economizing, it is canceling its scientific data service, which promised to store massive quantities of scientific date, from the Hubble telescope for example, for shared use.

Google offers lots of wonderful stuff “for free,” and it’s not surprising that in a recession the company is picking its shots. But as Wired reports, Amazon, which also offers cloud data services, is waiting in the wings and may rush in to fill the void.

2 Responses to “Google Opens a Door to Competition”

  1. Hilary Says:

    I was a beta-tester for their datasets service and have attended a number of talks by some of the engineers working on the project. I suspect that Google underestimated the likelihood that scientists would share their data online. Several studies have suggested there is significant resistance towards data sharing amongst researchers, despite the majority agreeing that the open availability of data for reproducibility and verification of results is necessary for the progress of science:

    Campbell, E et al. Data withholding in academic genetics: evidence from a national survey. JAMA. 2002;287:473-480.

    Sterling, T. Analysis and Reanalysis of Shared Scientific Data. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 1988;495,1:49-60

    Vogeli C et al. Data withholding and the next generation of scientists: results of a national survey. Acad Med. 2006 Feb;81(2):128-36.

    The old aphorism “if you build it, they will come” is far from true…

  2. Harry Lewis Says:

    There’s another old aphorism, “Follow the money.”