The advent of massive, democratically available data about our bodies and health is going to wreak havoc on the research enterprise. Exactly what kind of havoc is yet to be determined.
Many of the biggest impacts of technology have been driven by monopolies and their network effects. And when we choose open standards as our monopolies, we get vast open networks HTML, TCP/IP, and other systems where anyone can compete. When we choose walled gardens as our monopolies, we get a very different results Apple, Facebook, and Twitter control precisely how and when competition, and entrepreneurship can happen.
Were faced with this choice right now in biomedical research, and the decisions we make will define how the avalanche of data we can capture turns into knowledge we can use to improve health and accelerate discovery. We have to make good choices about the governance of data, from its generation to its dissemination to its use, or we're not going to get what we need.