In many research disciplines there is a growing deluge of digital data. Capacity planning estimates from the University of Bristol, for example, indicate storage demand growing at 127% per annum. This is not a problem that will go away. However, it presents opportunities as well as challenges. Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the influential Coalition of Networked Information (CNI), recognized this in his article ‘Big data: How do your data grow?’ (Nature, 4 September 2008) when he said:
“Because digital data are so easily shared and replicated and so recombinable, they present tremendous reuse opportunities, accelerating investigations already under way and taking advantage of past investments in science”
This issue and opportunity is not restricted to science either.