I’ve just learned of eScience as a result of a book entitled “The Fourth Paradigm”.

While I don’t have that much to say about the essence of the Fourth Paradigm yet, I have to admit that I feel immediately at home with this group within eScience. One of the best quotes in the book is:

“Need driven versus curiosity driven. Basic science is question driven; in contrast, the new applications science is guided more by societal needs than scientific curiosity. Rather than seeking answers to questions, it focuses on creating the ability to seek courses of action and determine their consequences.”

Substitute ‘societal needs’ with ‘business needs’, and I have myself a nice bridge between eScience and commercial eScience. I suppose that’s been one of the fundamental misunderstandings about the Scientist-Practitioner: that they were only poking about out of curiosity. Science for the sake of science.

What if we were transparent about the intent to use science for purely commercial gain? Sounds Edisonian I suppose?

Much of the literature seems to be about very huge computing problems, like analyzing the data from the LHC. I’m not necessarily as concerned with problems of that order of magnitude. In fact, most business problems are fairly modest by comparison. What will, however, hold back commercial eScience, are the same forces that will hold back eScience. That is to say, the lack of unification among the fundamental tools.

At any rate – this field looks attractive.