A Deluge of Data Shapes a New Era in Computing:

He explained this paradigm as an evolving era in which an “exaflood” of observational data was threatening to overwhelm scientists. The only way to cope with it, he argued, was a new generation of scientific computing tools to manage, visualize and analyze the data flood.

Google Fusion Tables API

What is Fusion Tables? A product launched recently in Google Labs, Fusion Tables is a free service for sharing and visualizing data online. It allows you to upload data, share and mark up your data with collaborators, merge data from multiple tables, and create visualizations like charts and maps.

There is also the raging debate over climate change that has highlighted, among other things, the need for access to the raw data underlying scientific papers. I'm not saying that Fusion Tables is the answer, but it is a beginning. I'm also saying that I really like working at Google.

Update: The book "The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery" is available for download from Microsoft Research.