Although the internet is still growing steadily as we speak, it is implausible that trend will still continue for years to come, as individual websites are increasingly losing ground to larger web portals like Google, Facebook and Twitter - who do everything in their power to keep us on their pages. But the sheer quantity of data buzzing around the electronic highway keeps on exploding. Experts now assume that every 10 seconds round about 5 billion gigabytes of data is added to the web...
All these huge figures mean that the mountain of useful digital data - called big data, is growing every second.
The enormous amount of data that’s available, offers scores of possibilities for science we don’t even know about yet, while at the same time offering a glimpse of ultra-useful, cost- and even life-saving applications - health apps that monitor your physical condition or your eating and drinking habits, for example.
On top of all this, big data is much more of an alfa than an omega when it comes to scientific research, because by putting databases next to each other with the help of powerful computers or by joining them together, scientists can identify correlations that may ultimately lead to new questions. Which can then be taken up by (other) scientists.
Flanders is at the centre of basic research that works with big data as its starting point, and at the same time capitalises on that digital data with new applications. And besides this, every association or institute with an archive worth the name is involved in one digitisation project or other.