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Cyberinfrastructure: the Second Revolution

February 3, 2007

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Chronicle of Higher Education (01/05/07) Vol. 53, No. 18, P. B5; Bement, Arden L.

National Science Foundation director Arden Bement believes we are on the cusp of a second IT revolution "that may well usher in a new technological age that will dwarf, in sheer transformational scope and power, anything we have yet experienced in the current information age." He identifies the phenomenon of cyberinfrastructure, which encompasses the generation, dissemination, conservation, and application of knowledge, as the driver of this revolution. Cyberinfrastructure's core components are virtual distributed-knowledge communities that span institutions and the world, and Bement says the key requirements for the creation and utilization of cyberinfrastructure will be learning and workforce development efforts. Bement says, "The power of cyberinfrastructure to enhance education and provide new learning opportunities is such an expansive and beneficial feature that we must be sure to create the conditions for synergy between research and education from the outset," which means that these strategies must be central to the cyberinfrastructure enterprise. Bement thinks the U.S. higher-education community can take a vanguard position in the second IT revolution by adopting the cyberinfrastructure vision, and says it would serve the community well with a swift movement toward e-learning. He points out that the NSF's cyberinfrastructure initiative only scratches the surface, and expansive collaboration among individuals across all fields and educational institutions is necessary to the evolution of knowledge communities. Bement goes so far as to reason that cyberinfrastructure leadership could become the key factor in gauging the prominence in higher education among countries, which in turns feeds into the ever-increasing value of a nation's "intangible assets" such as patents, skilled employees, and proficiency. He sees a connection between America's continued global economic competitiveness, fueled by innovation, and its assumption of a leadership position in cyberinfrastructure.

Posted by rab5 at 03:34 PM


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