Big Data’s People Problem

Big Data Debate

To Google Campus in east London to hear what a number of practitioners thought were the most controversial questions surrounding the use and abuse of big data. After a couple of lightning pitches from big data startups (if you dream of using augmented reality to make your exercise regime more exciting, you’ll be in luck when Google Glass is released) the event moved into a wide ranging panel discussion with participants including journalist Paul Bradshaw, Daniel Hulme, founder of Satalia and Duncan Ross, Director of Data Science at Teradata. The event was billed as tackling the controversial questions over big data, and the panelists got right down to business, eschewing talk of big data’s big potential in favour of honest reflection about the darker side of the data revolution. Continue reading “Big Data’s People Problem”

Fahrenheit 401: Digital Deletion Is Incompatible with Democracy

book burning
(C) pcorreia on flickr

Quite understandably, book burning has a bad reputation. It is a scout badge for history’s nastiest antagonists – Nazis, Stalinists and the Taleban have indulged in it – and biblioclasm also provides the central motif for Ray Bradbury’s dystopian masterpiece Fahrenheit 451 (the temperature at which book paper burns), in which perversely named ‘firemen’ are tasked with obliterating burning outlawed books and occasionally the bookish. Continue reading “Fahrenheit 401: Digital Deletion Is Incompatible with Democracy”

The Challenge of Big Data: A Day at the British Library

Image
(C) failing_angel on flickr

On Friday I attended the British Sociological Association’s Presidential Event at the British Library, titled ‘The Challenge of Big Data’. The venue couldn’t have been more symbolically appropriate: the British Library collection holds more than 150 million books, newspapers, maps and manuscripts, which would seem to constitute big data by almost any yardstick. Moreover, the Library is in the process of digitising parts of this collection, rendering it useful to innovative research. Continue reading “The Challenge of Big Data: A Day at the British Library”