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Oracle Beware — Google Tests Cloud-Based Database 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the db-two-point-oh dept.
narramissic writes "On Tuesday, the same day Google held a press event to launch its Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, the company quietly announced in its research team blog a new online database called Fusion Tables. Under the hood of Fusion Tables is data-spaces technology, which would 'allow Google to add to the conventional two-dimensional database tables a third coordinate with elements like product reviews, blog posts, Twitter messages and the like, as well as a fourth dimension of real-time updates,' according to Stephen E. Arnold, a technology and financial analyst. 'So now we have an n-cube, a four-dimensional space, and in that space we can now do new kinds of queries which create new kinds of products and new market opportunities,' said Arnold, whose research about this topic includes a study done for IDC last August. 'If you're IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, your worst nightmare is now visible.'"
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Oracle Beware — Google Tests Cloud-Based Database

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  • Um... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:04PM (#28311243) Homepage

    How's this three dimensional stuff not just plain old OLAP [wikipedia.org]?

    • by smallfries (601545) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:10PM (#28311329) Homepage

      Because it packs more hype into an n-cube, and fills a 4-dimensional space with marketing.

      Come on, that's impressive guys, right?

      • To be fair (Score:5, Informative)

        by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:28PM (#28311613) Homepage

        Looking over the actual Google blog announcement [blogspot.com], this looks more like a case of the F article [itworld.com] getting it all wrong. The "dimensionality" stuff is clearly not intended to be the innovation or selling point of Google's service; much less a differentiator relative to database vendors, who've had OLAP for ages.

        The real selling points seem to be an easy UI, a lot of predefined public data sets available to combine and correlate with your own data, and the collaboration features.

      • Re:Um... what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:36PM (#28311725) Homepage Journal

        Because it packs more hype into an n-cube, and fills a 4-dimensional space with marketing.

        That's why it's called a hype[r]cube. They'd call it a tesseract, but the reviewers kept asking how it helped with eye problems. ;-)

        Joking aside, a cube is a data-mining/reporting concept that pre-computes a number of reporting relationships between data elements. Adding a "fourth-dimension" is usually what's referred to as a "slowly changing dimension". It's usually handled by adding time stamps denoting an active period for a record, then computing based on a time range.

        I don't know if Google means the same thing here (probably not), but it sounds like the real breakthrough is a large-scale data space. Having worked with a few data space DBs, the concept lends itself well to the more organic nature of the Web. IMHO, it has the potential to succeed and offer a strong competitive advantage over traditional RDBMSes.

        Today's RDBMSes are great, but the cost of adding new features to the application is extremely high. Data spaces sidestep the issue by allowing you to add data in whatever format you need. There are some rather obvious pitfalls (I can hear the DBAs screaming about data integrity already), but it matches the web development environment well. :-)

        • by Foofoobar (318279)
          Well yes and no. Basically from what I can tell, this sounds like automation of ORM. Basically you take ORM, build functionality to automatically handle joins and then add in functionality like notes which is nothing more than another table.

          It has it's use like Access has it's use but this goes back to the same old argument of ORM not scaling as well as perhaps an SQL layer in your application. Some small scale websites might make use of this and find it useful but running anything medium to large would
        • DBAs should be screaming about that. The data integrity requirement has very little to do with the RDBMS itself - after all you can set things up in a standard RDBMS in a way that requires little structure and integrity. It's that data integrity makes the data consistent for reporting. If you want to report on data, and particularly if you want to do anything statistical with it, you need consistency and correctness. The Fusion idea is neato, but it's not going to get you around data consistency and in
      • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:43PM (#28311845) Journal
        I think you're overlooking the impact of this as a challenge to Oracle and other DB providers.

        It's not just marketing. This will revolutionize how DB services are provided. For one thing, now all your data is belong to Google (but that's a small price to pay for free/low cost data hosting, right?). For another thing, this DB exists in four dimensions. Unfortunately, one of those dimensions is the home of Googol the Destroyer, who has been summoned to our dimension to wreak the End of Days via the Rite of a Thousand Targeted Ads. Development of this DB was actually how Googol the Destroyer was accidentally summoned to our dimension; following his summoning, he quickly turned all of Google to his cause.

        When last we saw our heroes [slashdot.org], they were continuing work on their plan to convert all the world's sorcerors to their cause, building the One True OS with Built-in Global Web Search to stop Googol. We learned the source of Stallmanx's power were the beard gnomes that live in his Beard of Druidic Prowess when they helped him escape from Googol's clutches.

        Meanwhile, Googol's crack team of evil underlords continue their preparation of preventative solutions to all the possible ways the world can be saved (probalby stored in this new 4-dimensional DB, by the way). Googol the Destroyer continues to devour data gathered by the Webcrawling Spiders of Doom with gobsmacking satisfaction.

        So what are our heroes, Joba and Gatus, up to?

        JOBA: Gatus, how are you fairing in your quest to buy out all the greedy sorcerors?

        I did well for a while, and I've still got cash left thanks to issuing those bonds last month... but it seems that the remaining sorcerors are resisting the charms of my cold, hard cash. For some reason they are not responding to my efforts to Embrace and Extend them.

        JOBA: Perhaps you should rethink your pitch. I'm good at marketing, let me help. For instance, maybe the "Extend" part of your methods should not involve use of the Rack. Maybe a new slogan, like "Embrace and Embrace". Then it's just hugs all around.

        GATUS: Perhaps you have a point. But I think that's a little extreme. How about "Embrace and Exsanguinate"? I could use an Iron Maiden to drain their blood, surely that's not as bad as Extending them on the Rack?

        JOBA: No, no, that doesn't work at all. Trust me... "Embrace and Embrace" is the best way for all the sorcerors to come to appreciate your strengths. And who knows, you might like it. [wink]

        GATUS: Very well. But how goes your plans to subvert the Ministers of Fashion to get th low-self-esteem sorcerors to come to your side?

        JOBA: Splendidly. Though there is some backlash from the sorcerors who want "open" hardware or somesuch. Apparently they are incapble of appreciating the "experience" I deliver. We'll have to work on them.

        Meanwhile, Googol instructs his acolytes in the finer points of using his 4-dimensional database to represent n-dimensional space, where n equals the number of souls fed to the Targeted Advertising Machine of Futile Resistance. This information is to be used by them in a nefarious plot to neutralize the efforts of our heroes. Coinciding with this, Googol has instructed his crack team of evil underlords to collect the threads of the Ultimate Evil Woven Tapestry of Universe Description, known as "Dark Fibers", in one place.

        What is Googol the Destroyer planning with the Dark Fibers? How will He utilize the Evil Woven Tapestry of Universe Description in his bid to wreak the End of Days?

        Will Gatus and Joba be able to complete the One True OS with Built-in Global Web Search in time?

        Tune in to next week's episode of Google the Destroyer to find out!
        • by GaryOlson (737642)
          Now that is some impressive n-dimensional cloud satire.
          • Unfortunately, the moderation on the Googol the Destroyer posts tends to fluctuate.

            The posts are too long, which hurts -- brevity is the soul of wit.

            Also, the Apple fanboys don't like the satirization of Jobs AND they tend to have a lot of mod points, the Google fanboys don't like the anthropomorphic satirization of Google, and both the Microsoft fanboys have issues with the satirization of Gates.

            It's like an exercise in how to piss off the most people and still end up with positive moderation.

            I just ha
            • Who cares for the mods, lately /. mods are being on crack or some evil combination of PCP and industrial glue. Do it because you can and you can do it right: You're funny and insightful at the same time. I think this is the kind of stuff twitter was designed for. Googol the destroyer has a potential I think you haven't realized yet.
        • Oh God I keep telling you .. you should post this on a blog or in twitter so we can have minute by minute updates of how things are folding out. I'd subscribe, I'm subscriptofobic but I'd do it. No, really, you have talent :D
      • Screw n-cube. I want TIME-CUBE.

      • Hey, they forgot the 5th Dimension. I heard that was an even better rock group than the 3rd Dimension.

      • 4th Dimension(al) [4d.com] Database has already been done. I used this back in 1993, 94 or so.

      • Is this anything like Time Cube [timecube.com]?

      • The real question is not how this Stephen E. Arnold imbecile managed to spew forth such an unholy spurt of verbal diarrhea, but why on earth said spurt has been inflicted on the /. readership.

    • Seriously, just add one attribute to every table, and now you have a new "dimension." Big freaking woop.

    • Re:Um... what? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by WarwickRyan (780794) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:30PM (#28311635)

      Yes and no.

      What they're describing what I'd describe as an OLAP 2.0. They're taking similar capabilities (central data store, cubed data) and combining them with user generated content, sharing and the cloud.

      The system looks extremely similar to an BI system.

      I'd make an counter point to TFA: I actually think that this is probablly Business Objects / Microstrategy / Cognos's biggest dream: the system shows the power that effectively BI can provide an business with data which is effectively shared and public.

      Google are making their business case: give vendor lots-of-money and they can gain the capability over your own data, but in an nicely managable manner (so your competitors won't be getting access to it).

      • Gah, why doesn't Slashdot have an edit function? It's 2009 not 2001.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Yeah, that's more or less what I figured after reading a bit more through stuff [slashdot.org]. The article Slashdot is sourcing this from is just clueless about what the real differentiating point is; it's not the fact that it's OLAP, it's the UI and integration with other Google or web data.

      • by mbowen (943330)

        Yes and no.

        What they're describing what I'd describe as an OLAP 2.0. They're taking similar capabilities (central data store, cubed data) and combining them with user generated content, sharing and the cloud.

        The system looks extremely similar to an BI system.

        I'd make an counter point to TFA: I actually think that this is probablly Business Objects / Microstrategy / Cognos's biggest dream: the system shows the power that effectively BI can provide an business with data which is effectively shared and public.

        Google are making their business case: give vendor lots-of-money and they can gain the capability over your own data, but in an nicely managable manner (so your competitors won't be getting access to it).

        It's not even OLAP 0.5.

        Fusion Tables is to OLAP what Dreamweaver is to Typepad. It's a very elementary storage capability that demonstrates Google's ability to abstract what they do on the back end to 'tables'. It is so far from an OLAP or BI system as to be a joke. Oracle and Microsoft have nothing to fear just like Bloomberg has nothing to fear from Google Finance. There are three reasons.

        1. It's not OLAP. As a very elementary and basic thing, you'd have to be able to do operations in an abstracted, d

    • It is. Man I need to borrow their marketing speak.
  • Merged? (Score:5, Funny)

    by againjj (1132651) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:06PM (#28311259)

    'If you're IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, your worst nightmare is now visible.'

    I didn't realize they had merged.

  • I'm coming out with a five-dimensional database.
    -Taylor

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      I'm coming out with a five-dimensional database.

      Got you beat; I'm coming out with a 5.00000001 dimension database.
           

      • I'm coming out with a five-dimensional database.

        Got you beat; I'm coming out with a 5.00000001 dimension database.

        Fuck!

        But seriously - my other post was modded troll? It was supposed to be funny!

        And it was also supposed to be a bit serious - saying that adding twitter messages and the like makes it 3D is just silly. It't just another table, which is cool and could be extremely useful, but that doesn't make it 3D, does it?

        And then you throw in time and it's 4D? I can understand time actually being useful and it does make sense that it would add another dimension, but i would call the end result 3D, not 4D. It just remin

        • by Tablizer (95088)

          But seriously - my other post was modded troll? It was supposed to be funny!

          Fahgettaboutit. Moderators tend to be the grumpy sorts.

          And it was also supposed to be a bit serious - saying that adding twitter messages and the like makes it 3D is just silly.

          Agreed. Tables can have nearly infinite factors/variables, and thus are not really limited by "dimensions" the way the physical world is. It's apples to oranges. Marketing-speak.

  • I like how the word "mdash" is in the URL.
  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:08PM (#28311291) Homepage

    I don't get it. Relational databases are deficient, because they need twitter posts and the FOURTH DIMENSION of being able to update and insert data?

    • by BobMcD (601576)

      I'm right there with you. I don't get it either... The other google thing had a nifty video. I need to try and find one for this...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Clearly someone has no clue of the word dimension and relational databases. Just because a table can be printed on paper doesn't make it two dimensional.

      In relational databases a table is a set of tuples. A tuple is a finite sequence of elements. An n-tuple has n elements and is itsself an element in a n-dimensional space.

      That fourth dimension nonsense is what you get if you don't have a basic education of relational databases and relational algebra. But thats just the old stuff of the '70s that is way outd

      • by jadavis (473492)

        Mod parent up.

        Imagine if you were to tell a mathematician: "Hey, I just made your numbers better. Now every number can be attached to something, like a blog or twitter post. That way you know where the numbers came from. Closure? What's that?"

    • by GaryOlson (737642)
      If you don't use twitter posts as a foreign key, how do you ever expect the data to be properly socially indexed?
  • I'm interested in how this is going to further web development and online collaboration.

    It seems to be a wiki like simplified database.

    • by sunking2 (521698)
      I guess the theory is that now the FBI can use your ssn to search and join on every database in the cloud that you have permission to, whether they own and maintain the data or not. I'm not real sure what the big deal is other than by offering a free 250MB of space to host Google can now mine the crap out of it nice and conveniently.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm interested in how this is going to further web development and online collaboration.

      The same way every other technology that is nothing but hype has impacted it. If you don't use it, you won't be cool enough. Therefore everyone will start using it even though the result is a big ugly slow web app that doesn't add much in the way of usability but won't run on most browsers, is error prone on other browsers and takes an up to date beefy system just to run the same basic thing that ran fine on older hardware with the "old" tech.

      Seriously though. Why all the relational database and SQL bash

      • Seriously though. Why all the relational database and SQL bashing? Someone explain to be what sort of new math people are trying to invent that will invalidate the mathematics of set theory and render it obsolete?

        Dataspaces (ignoring the hype explosion) has nothing to do with relational database or SQL bashing; it fills a different role than RDBMSs; a particular purposes of "Dataspaces" is to unify access to heterogenous collections of data, including the case where some of the underlying data is held in RD

    • by Dexx (34621)

      Maybe it's more of an alternative to stuff like Crystal Reports?
      Dump data into google tables, let executives play with it, generate charts, trends, etc.

      Or B2B customers could sift through their data which is updated by a core data system.
      Data imports could be handled by dumping the data to a google table, then customers and account managers could hash out values/columns before involving a DBA.



  • "'If you're IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, your worst nightmare is now visible.'"

    Like I would EVER trust a company to store my data, let alone touch it. The life's blood of my company.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sabs (255763)

      Well, to be honest.

      I work at a bank. We use something called Fiserve which is a completely hosted Financial services software package.
      We open accounts, manage accounts, do our teller stuff, all on software and in databases that we do not own in any way shape or form. It freaks the hell out of me, but it does happen.

  • 'If you're IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, your worst nightmare is now visible.'

    Really? It probably threatens slashdot's business model more than it does corporate IT vendors. Imagine a new mash up that delivers all the content of slashdot without any of the ads nor the frequent fiddling with message filter UIs.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:15PM (#28311413) Homepage

    Twitter coordinates, n-Cubes, and four-dimensional spaces... in a cloud?

    Gee... I'm glad it's not possible to die from a hype overdose.

  • Proprietary data? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor (164577) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:21PM (#28311491)

    What company in their right mind is going to upload the crown jewels into someone else's computer?

    • Re:Proprietary data? (Score:4, Informative)

      by abigor (540274) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:37PM (#28311747)

      Salesforce.com (crm), Taleo (hr), and various others like them are all successful. SAP is working on an online offering, I hear, and it may already be out there, I don't know. In short, lots and lots of companies offload various critical functions into the "cloud" (argh) if it makes sense to do so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blhack (921171)

      Google seems to be really great at taking a little tiny thing, doing it a couple billion times, and making a few cents off of every transaction.

      My guess is that this is aimed more at individuals who are writing blogs and contact managers, not so much corporations with huge development teams and datacenters.

      To answer your question: people that don't really think that their data is "top secret".

      • by Rary (566291)

        My guess is that this is aimed more at individuals who are writing blogs and contact managers...

        Not likely. The focus seems to be on sharing and analyzing data, not just storing for retrieval on a web page. This is more BI than read-mostly RDBMS.

    • I stick my crown jewels into someone else's mouth. Swimmers (like information) want to be free! ~~~~o
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jambarama (784670)
      Funny you mention that, I saw an article yesterday [acm.org] which claims to have created an encryption scheme where encrypted data can be modified, written into, queried, and anything "that can be eciently expressed as a circuit" by a person without the decryption key.

      If I'm reading the paper correctly, it would mean google could host data, and without having access to the data itself, could still permit user lookups and modifications. Of course that doesn't allay concerns of 3rd party reliability, the encryptio
    • by juanergie (909157)

      I believe at some point far back in the past people thought the same about banks: what person it its right mind will put the cash in someone else's safe?

      It is a matter of time and technology; soon enough this type of clouds and outsourcing of IT infrastructure will be taken for granted.

      • by Haeleth (414428)

        There are big differences between data and money.

        For example, all money is fundamentally the same. All data is fundamentally different. You aren't going to get a competitive advantage from looking at the banknotes in my pocket; you might however benefit significantly from a glance at the contents of a USB stick.

        Likewise, you can't look at my bank balance and say "hey, that's a great idea, I'll have a bank balance that size too!" But you could very easily look at my data and decide to copy that.

        And banks

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          If someone breaks into a bank and steals a whole load of money, it is the bank itself that suffers most, not the clients of that bank. If someone breaks into a data store and steals data, on the other hand, then it is the clients who suffer most, not the operators of the data store.

          Both are insured against direct financial loss, such as when they get sued for dropping their customers' trousers, but neither can in fact be insured against the loss of customers that will surely ensue when such a confidence-destroying event as theft occurs.

    • What company in their right mind is going to upload the crown jewels into someone else's computer?

      While the pre-alpha version of Fusion Tables does require uploading the data to it for it to use, the whole concept of Dataspaces is providing a unified interface to heterogenous collections of underlying datastores that aren't directly under the complete control of the Dataspace, so presumably, when the system is more developed, you won't need to trust anyone else's computer with control of your data to make u

    • by dtoader (1104557)
      What company?

      This is happening on a major scale in IT operations.

      If a you installed a third-party client application
      with a DB backend and are hosting the database locally,
      chances are the vendor is working on getting that out of
      your server room DB server and into their cloud data center.
      Your users will probably access the new system
      through a web interface.

      Anecdotally ADP has done this with their eTIMEsheet
      application.

      That which can be off-hosted will be.

      The reasoning is that it frees up
    • All Your dataBASE Are Belong To Us!

      -Google

    • by St.Creed (853824)
      Companies that would want to publish their data set to the world for PR reasons now have a very nice platform to do so. Companies that want to monetize their data can do that as well on the same platform. The old way is to get FTP downloads. The new way is to subscribe to specific Fusion Tables.

      I know sport statistics companies that make a good living of their data - this could be a big one for them as soon as Google adds billing facilities to it. And Google would have a HUGE incentive for doing exactly t

  • Unless you add fifth dimensional monkeys, you just aren't cool anymore.
    • by Gerocrack (979018)
      But they HAVE added them... you can't see a monkey from the fifth dimension until it is too late. That's why they're so dangerous.
    • I don't know about that, but I did see the newly formed super-group The Fifth-Dimensonal Monkees some time back. They did a mashup of "I'm a Believer" and "Age of Aquarius". Really, really horrible.
    • Unless you add fifth dimensional monkeys, you just aren't cool anymore.

      I thought they had consultants?

  • by sirwired (27582) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:33PM (#28311681)

    I have a funny feeling Oracle, DB2, and MS SQL executives aren't exactly quivering in abject terror at the idea of a database with "a third coordinate with elements like product reviews, blog posts, Twitter messages and the like."

    "Real time updates" are a new feature (and a "fourth dimension")? That's news to me... I thought batch-only updates went out with punchcards.

    I'm pretty sure this Google thing has some interesting features, but I am equally sure that it has nothing to do with the buzzword-stuff from that marketing drone/"IT Consultant."

    SirWired

  • Security Issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by gubers33 (1302099) on Friday June 12, 2009 @02:40PM (#28311803)
    Although clouds are the hot topic right now they are nothing new. The concept as been around since the 1960s with the timesharing model. Clouds are definitely the thing of the future, and cloud security is going along with that trend. It is not that clouds can't be secured like any other network, it is that they can't be tested as easily as every other network. I mean other companies are working on cloud storage as well, the big one being EMC with Atmos. It is an intriguing concept, but get the cloud secure enough to put confidential information in it will be the deal breaker.
    • by mbowen (943330)
      Clouds are new in that they are elastic. In the 60s, you bought fractional computing of a fixed resource, like a couple floors of the Empire State Building. It was all zero sum. Now it is not. Cloud providers are what enterprise IT would be if they grew up. Most corporate IT does not and will not even use IPV6 - talk about security. There are real cloud providers today that won't accept data unless it is encrypted and field encrypted too. That's more secure than 90% of enterprise data. I've written more t
  • The marketing speak and abuse of the term "dimensions" in TFS is entirely unhelpful as to what "dataspaces" are about. The pre-alpha release of Fusion Tables now available has pretty limited (though interesting) functionality; a broader picture of what "dataspaces" are about is available in this paper [berkeley.edu], which is probably more useful to the technically- (rather than marketing-) oriented crowd on Slashdot.

    Of particular note, a "DataSpace Support Platform" (DSSP) is not a replacement for RDBMSs, but instead som

    • I agree 100%. The article makes mention of dimensions and n-cubes, which is already synonymous with star schemas and OLAP cubes in the data warehousing/business intelligence world. To me this causes confusion as to understanding how exactly this Google Fusion works, or even what exactly it does. From looking at the Berkeley paper you linked, I don't see any connection between Dataspaces and OLAP cubes tbh.
    • by blincoln (592401)

      Agreed. From skimming over the paper, it looks like this is very much like a system I designed (but never implemented) about a year after the paper you link to was written. Microsoft also has similar technology in the form of the Business Data Catalogue in SharePoint. I hadn't read the paper until now, so I guess the concept is sort of zeitgeisty.
      Ideally, it would let users work with data sort of like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, or MI6 in one of the two Daniel Craig Bond films - giving users a space to b

  • This is an awful article. Sadly it takes away from what could be a pretty useful competitor to MS Access. http://realjavasoa.blogspot.com/2009/06/google-fusion-tables-vs-oracle-duh.html [blogspot.com]
  • From this article, I couldn't tell, but my real interest is in how Google does massively distributed in-memory databases. That is the technology I'm most interested in. I don't really care so much about the other stuff. Is this what Google runs? Or just an academic side project?
  • for all Tables add new column("product reviews, blog posts, Twitter messages and the like");

    "and in that space we can now do new kinds of queries which create new kinds of products and new market opportunities"

    I'd love to see the query that creates new products and market opportunities.
  • In other words, Google is yet another organization jumping on the tensor mining bandwagon prior to assessing its merits and pitfalls? If they're using the same algorithms I think they're using, Google is going to have a heck of a time with the efficiency, considering the scale of their dataset. The 502 error I get when I attempt to access it isn't encouraging either.

  • This is a world wide, shared, annotated database with easy ways to join to other data and visualization tools built-in. Kudos to Google for implementing this.

    Apart from the monetization possibilities (of which there are plenty), you can now crowdsource datagathering easier than ever before.

    • All over the world there are ornithology clubs that count birds. Imagine everyone editing the same dataset (with history) and comments added etc.
    • Scientists doing research on the Mexican flue. Victim counts + added inf

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