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Tons of social media there for the taking… but is it truly representative of real life? Jürgen Pfeffer

Studying society via social media is not so simple

Behavioral scientists have seized on social media and their massive data sets as a way to quickly and cheaply figure out what people are thinking and doing. But some of those tweets and thumbs ups can…
What if whether you got a job was determined by which web browser you used? Shutterstock

Big data could be a big problem for workplace discrimination law

Staff recruitment and retention are an ongoing challenge for employers. Proponents of big data in the workplace are now claiming they can change that. We’re entering a new age of predictive selection that…
Taste of success. nan palmero

Why LinkedIn’s university rankings matter

It’s that time of year when undergraduates who want to continue their studies are busily looking around for advice on which masters degree to apply for and school leavers are pondering their university…
Old fashioned scandals meet new-fangled complexity. Andy Dean Photography

Will all the ethical social scientists please stand up?

Social scientists have to get better at recognising and responding to ethical problems. Although economists, political scientists and psychologists have not been responsible for the same level of abuses…
Big Data also has an eye on the game. intelfreepress

Big data’s arrival in sport is changing the rules of the game

In sport we don’t just want to know who won. We now want to know how to replicate success and then improve on it. And to do this, we’re using data – and lots of it. The field of “big data” analytics has…
Don’t look a big data gift horse in the mouth. Horse graphic by Yganko/Shutterstock

Is big data heading for its ‘horsemeat moment’?

There have been so many leaks, hacks and scares based on misuse or misappropriation of personal data that any thought that “big data” could provide benefits rather than only opportunities for harm may…
Consumers are faced with myriad choices when they come to buy a car. Shutterstock

Small, not big data key to working out what consumers want

Corporations everywhere are hoovering up petabytes of data in a bid to understand and predict consumer preferences. But what if they’re missing the point, and should instead focus on “small data”? In a…
You can shine light on a dog, but it’s still a dog. cabancreative/Flickr

Most ‘big data’ marketing is a waste of time, and here’s why

A passer-by happens upon a drunk searching for a lost wallet under a streetlight. With nothing in plain sight, the passer-by asks “Where did you drop your wallet?”. “Over there,” gestures the drunk across…
How can big data help us to better understand the cinema habits of movie-lovers around the world? Kenneth Lu/Flickr

Big Data at the movies: the Kinomatics project

The backlash against “big data” studies is well underway. And no more so than in the area of humanities and creative arts research. If I had a dollar for every person who has told me over the past year…
Human rights monitoring can now be done by anyone. Allyson Neville-Morgan

Big data brings new power to open-source intelligence

In November 2013, the New Yorker published a profile of Eliot Higgins – or Brown Moses as he is known to almost 17,000 Twitter followers. An unemployed finance and admin worker at the time, Higgins was…
Aside from the usual data we hand over to internet companies and gadget manufacturers, there’s loads of other data our devices collect which we don’t know about. Chris Isherwood/Flickr

Detection devices: how a ‘sensor society’ quietly takes over

As our cars, phones and computers get “smarter” they – and the companies that provide them – know a lot more about us than they used to. A large part of this data collection stems from the fact that these…
We collect climate data. We collect health data. What if we combined the two? Kevin

Data mashups can help answer the world’s biggest questions

As the world wakes up to the power of data, we need to start working out how to join up all this information. We need to turn it into meaningful findings that will help us to make changes to the way we…
Chances are your every shopping move is being tracked. Phil Campbell/Flickr

Big Data and personalised pricing: consider yourself gamed

Imagine yourself the CEO of a company that mainly sells one product. One of your goals is to maximise profits. You know you can charge a flat price, or modestly raise profits by using quantity discounts…
Good grief. Have you checked out the small print on this care.data deal? Machine Project

Time for some truth about who is feeding off our NHS data

The UK government has decided to hold off on plans to upload GP records onto a central database for six months. But it may have to drop the plan permanently unless it can provide satisfactory answers to…
MongoDB co-founder and chairman Dwight Merriman still writes code. TechCrunch/Flickr

The new technologies needed for dealing with big data

While much focus and discussion of the so-called “Big Data revolution” has been on the data itself and the exciting new applications it is enabling — from Google’s self-driving cars through to CSIRO and…

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