Most research work depends on the availability of data. This issue is so critical that not seldom there are real wars in research projects about the property of data. Who owns it?
For a PhD candidate it is sometimes the available data who defines the scope of his work, and a big component of the PhD process is Data Theory.
Nevertheless, we are systematically sharing data when we use social networks' websites like for example Facebook or Twitter. With our Gmail accounts we can publish a blog like this one and store zillions of bytes of e-mails in a distant, inhabited warehouse owned by Google Corporation, and it is free. However, I wonder if we are doing this really for free? When we agree with the Terms of Service, most of the times we are giving up of property rights of our data. These bytes are going to be useful to someone else? Are they going to be input data in some complex statistical work or will they be sell to other companies? Will they be able to find out very interesting things about me with their algorithms? Yes, they will. We already have immense computable power and very efficient algorithms to succeed in this task.
Maybe in future we will be able to transaction our data like other commodities. Along with crude, gold, coffee, cocoa and other exchangeable raw materials, can we imagine a market for data?