For the first half of 2014 I will be working on several projects that are directly or indirectly related to Big Data. The cover a number of different contexts, from transparency and civic engagement to developing curatorial best practice.
Big Data is a very hot topic at the moment, and there are many different opinions and perspectives on the subject. So, in this post, I’ve shared a couple of interesting pieces that I’ve come across during my research these past few weeks.
New MIT Media Lab tool lets anyone visualise unwieldy government data
The number of data sets that are being made available online by governments all over the world are on the rise, but they remain inaccessible to the average person. Media Lab professor Cesaor Hidalgo is developing a series of visualisation apps to address this gap. He developed the DataViva website in collaboration with the Brazilian state government of Minas Gerais. The website aims to open up data for the entire formal sector of the Brazilian economy through more than 100 million interactive visualisations. This website could very well be the first step in enabling the average person to make informed decisions that affect his or her day-to-day existence.
What Calvin and Hobbes can teach us about Big Data?
There is certainly no shortage of hype around Big Data, but it is a pretty scary concept with a lot of unknown variables, says author Jim Louderback. He cites some of the challenges that his team has faced in a project that has been running for a year. Based on his experience he suggests we don’t always need to go mega with a Big Data project. Start with some of the more simpler tools and develop the discipline to make pertinent observations, which can produce useful insights. The author has applied this process to develop small scale prototypes, which have produced big results.
Big Data in the Humanities: The need for Big Questions
Some interesting insights from Professor Barry Smith who attended a workshop on Big Data in the Humanities, part of the 2012 IEEE International Conference. The post begins with a definition of Big Data with a couple of handy examples. The relationship between this aggregation of data and product design and behaviour change is relatively straightforward. But what is the value of this data in the humanities research, which is often driven by context?
Getting past the data paradox
This post is part of the excellent – Predictions for Journalism 2014 series by Nieman Labs. Author Adrienne Debigare claims that this is the year the data revolution will sweep through news. She cites several example of major publications experimenting with big data to personalise news and maintain readership. Whilst there is much to be done, there are a couple of major barriers that need to be addressed – privacy and viable sources of revenue.
If you have come across an interesting thought-piece, experiment or point of view on Big Data, please share a link by leaving a comment below.
Abhay Adhikari / @gopaldass