I recently became aware of a debate of astronomical proportions. In the article “One Find, Two Astronomers”, a US astronomer and a Spanish astronomer are both taking credit for the same find.
Now this black hole of strange cosmic stew thickens. Bruce Schneier has just posted that the Spanish astronomer confirmed finding the object as a result of telescope logs he obtained from Google.
Interestingly enough this has the debate raging over ethics and the how the wealth of information available via a search on Google can be used. It’s an interesting debate but more interesting to me is the reaction. After all, Google can only provide information to people that has been made public. People are getting upset about someone using information that was published and made available.
Common sense speaks against that. If I sat in a restaurant and talked about a great new business idea allowing someone to overhear me, I’d be a bit of a moron. If I came up with a way to do cold fusion, I wouldn’t leave the napkin lying around for someone else to run off with.
We’ve entered into an Information Age. We all need to understand the value of information, how to keep it confidential, how to keep it safe from unauthorized modification, and how to publish it appropriately when the time comes. Otherwise we might end up like these two astronomers with a mass public saying: Finders keepers losers weepers.