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Cases of digital technologies enabling massive efficiency increases?

It would cost me the rest of my life.

I read this quote from Jason Ur at the Spiegel about analysis of satellite data in searching for promising archaeological sites. Dramatic, eh? Can anyone point me to other cases of dramatic efficiency increases due to digital workflows? Granted, I’m quote-mining. I’m sure there are loads of cool examples out there.

Full Spiegel quote:
Theoretisch seien entsprechende Untersuchungen natürlich auch am Boden möglich, erklärte Jason Ur. “Aber es würde mich vermutlich den Rest meines Lebens kosten, eine Gegend von dieser Größe zu begutachten. Mit Hilfe der Computertechnik bekommen wir schnell eine umfassende Karte.”

Theoretically, it’s possible to do the necessary analysis on the ground, says Jason Ur. “But it would likely cost me the rest of my life to survey an area of this size. Using computer technology, we’re quickly putting together a comprehensive map. (my translation, likely back into the language the quote was made in.)

Here’s the paper, by the way. Buried beneath a huge pile of french fries.

There are 2 Comments to this article

Jason Ur says:
03/21/2012

Not sure if I’m interpreting the “huge pile of french fries” properly, but I think it refers to academic paywalls. PNAS articles go fully Open Access after six months, which was one of the reasons we chose the publication venue (prestige factored in too). But really, if you want to see a paper that’s locked up with Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, etc. (all publishers to which I refuse to submit my work, by the way), take a tiny bit of initiative and EMAIL THE AUTHOR. For this PNAS article, the corresponding author’s email is listed on the non-paywalled abstract.

d maas says:
03/21/2012

Thanks for this reply!
My bad. I was trying to plug the new post at svpow. Not smooth.
I regularly contact authors of graphics research and paleontology work (what a combo). But oddly didn’t even think of it in this case. Out of my terrain? Anyway… thanks!

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