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Re: [vox-tech] collaborative data storage (of excel files)
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Re: [vox-tech] collaborative data storage (of excel files)

Dylan Beaudette wrote:
On Tuesday 15 January 2008 04:58:13 pm Ken Bloom wrote:
On Tue, 15 Jan 2008 09:33:44 -0800

Dylan Beaudette <dylan.beaudette@gmail.com> wrote:

some of the people in my lab are interested in collaboratively
compiling a large quantity of environmental data- each user appending
several hundred measurements of several variables every week.

They are currently emailing around a spread sheet file and there have
been numerous data accidents. Now they are asking to put the file
onto a shared drive, so that they can access it remotely. This sounds
like a terrible idea to me- even worse than the previous attempt.

The data are essentially rows and cols of numbers that are added to
and edited weekly.

At first I thought subversion might be helpful, but revision control
doesn't work so well with binary data (excel files)... unless there
is something I don't know about. It would be hard to detect
conflicts, or to merge data. However, it would allow for timestamps
and revision numbers to provide some level of authority.

Designing some kind of database-driven system seems like a logical
choice, but I do not have the time to do this. Perhaps there is
already something out there.

Does anyone have some insight into how to solve this data management
In what format do your colleagues generate their data to begin with?
Is this append-only or are there updates too?

They work exclusively with Excel.
A discussion about this problem with my sig. other last night resulted in mutual distrust of the way most people in academics and "professional" circles are handling data. There really should be a 'data management' course which is either part of the Technical Writing courses (which are required) or taught as a single quarter class. Everyone who is not in computer science or mathematics should be required to either test out of the course or take it.

This is on my list of course to create, and may happen soon if I decide to do a Phd. In the meantime we might do a spatial databases group study next quarter.

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