January 28th, 2008 by dwentworth
One of the most important reasons Science Commons exists is to help people find cures for disease faster. So we are delighted and honored to have made the FasterCures list of Ten to Watch in 2008 — recognizing “the top ten organizations, people, and ideas that are changing the face of biomedical research in 2008.”
FasterCures is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “saving lives by saving time.” FasterCures President Greg Simon, who oversaw a wide range of national scientific research initiatives as Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to former Vice President Al Gore, writes:
Collaborative science is the name of the game these days, as science gets bigger and more multi-disciplinary and the data available for research grows explosively. The technological opportunity presented by the Semantic Web for networking data and researchers will be transformative. Watch the Neurocommons Project, a demonstration of the power of the Semantic Web approach based on open access information.
What is a “Semantic Web” approach, and how can it help us meet the challenge of so-called network science?
In the simplest terms, it’s a way to mark research data so computers can help us make sense of it. The driving concept is that collaboration in science needs to make a shift from human-mediated to computer-mediated, from single-database access to data integration, from reading papers by people to reading papers with machines, and so on.
As part of the Neurocommons Project, we mark research that’s free to use — open access information — using the Semantic Web RDF language. This means that computers — not people — can sort through the data, giving researchers the ability to swiftly process much larger data sets. And that means that the research won’t simply be more accessible, it will also be easier to use — leading, we hope, to more (and faster) breakthroughs that benefit everyone.