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Informatics—transforming data into knowledge and empowerment



Michael Dunn
Dean, IU School of Informatics


According to a study by P. Lyman and H. R. Varian, humans produce between one and two exabytes of information per year in print, film, optical and magnetic content. Roughly, that's the textual content of 250 books for every man, woman and child on Earth.

If "information overload" is a cliche, it is only because we are all too familiar from our own lives with what it means.

With increasing ease, new technologies enable the capture of staggering amounts of data. A biologist who once examined a gene and generated 10 data points now has the capability to examine 10,000 genes in the same, single experiment, yielding 10 million data points.

This wealth of information presents a challenge to researchers who must find new ways to manipulate and analyze their data, converting it to useful information and ultimately to knowledge. Every discipline is challenged by this widening information gap. More and more data are generated, but our ability to transform it to knowledge lags far behind.

Informatics is an emerging"metadiscipline" dedicated to spanning the gap between information and its innovative application, empowering people to find the appropriate application of technology to specific problems. To do this requires a new discipline—specific knowledge intertwined with knowledge of information technology in a way that integrates the two. Thus we have emerging "multidisciplines" such as bioinformatics, chemical informatics, medical and health informatics, geoinformatics, and new media, as well as research areas focused on the commonalities of using large data sets, like data mining and human-computer interaction.

Just as the academy responded to the agricultural age with land grant universities and schools of agriculture, and to the industrial age with schools of engineering, Indiana University is demonstrating an innovative response with its School of Informatics—the first in the country.

http://www.informatics.indiana.edu/index.html

http://www.informatics.iupui.edu/

(Editor's note: See the "Today's Feature" section on today's gateway page of "IU Home Pages" to learn more about the Indiana University School of Informatics.)

 
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Publication date: November 9, 2001
Comments: homepgs@indiana.edu
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