The aggregation of information

Maybe it is a result of what I do for a living, but I am continually fascinated by what can be done when information is aggregated and disseminated to the people that can do something with it. I was listening to NPR this morning on the way into work and there was a story about Houston cleaning up its air. There was smog that would form over the suburbs and there were only a handful of people that had any idea what could be happening to cause it, let alone what was happening. Well, it turns out that there was a massive release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that was occurring at irregular intervals and, until the releases were documented and made publicly available, no correlation between that release and the smog could be drawn.

Information and content is everywhere. Every time I exhale I am physically changing the world around me. Now I am not saying that we need record of my respiration, but how much is happening in the world around me that could give me insight into this, that, or the other thing? I know that the collection and centralization of information is ripe for targeting and abuse, but I can't help but think that there is so much we can learn about, for example, a rare disease or a strange, natural anomaly. I would like to think that if we could just collect what we can get our hands on and get it into the hands of someone else that would be a step in the right direction.


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