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Analysis and Comment (37)

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…
Twitpic does all the hard work these days, so A&R men don’t even have to leave the office. marfis75

Twitter data puts music moguls back in the game

Twitter has decided to woo the music industry with a promise to share data on up-and-coming artists in a deal that would whet the appetite of most music lovers. It makes sense for one of the largest social…
NHS systems are groaning under the weight of big data and that’s bad for patients. Trevor Pritchard

Outdated laws put your health data in jeopardy

Given the heightened sense of concern about our personal data following the Edward Snowden revelations, it probably isn’t the best time for the NHS to ask us for more. So it simply hasn’t bothered asking…
So many people, so much data. Flickr/Fran Simó

Explainer: what is big data?

Big Data, as the name implies, relates to very large sets of data collected through free or commercial services on the internet. This massive amount of data arises from sensors, posts to social networking…
Looking to big data for that extra leap. EPA/JASON SZENES Corbis Out

Big data can give athletes the winning edge

Sport at the elite level has always adopted new technologies to capture data from players during play to better understand their performance and their team’s result. Closely aligned with this is the practice…
Big Data can and is being used for good, but greater transparency is required to remove the ‘creepy’ factor. Shutterstock.com

Taking the ‘creepy’ out of Big Data

Big Data has a reputation for being creepy; the domain of “Big Business” and “Big Government”. At best it’s the driver of relentless advertising, uniquely targeted and eerily reminiscent of our most recent…
You’re producing a lot of useful data but would you know what do with it? altemark

The trials and tribulations of giving back your data

Living in the age of data – whether big or small – certainly has its benefits for businesses and governments. Consumers, however, might be excused for feeling like they are being carried along without…
The skills required to tap Big Data include statistics, mathematics, computer science and engineering. Shutterstock.com

Solving Big Data’s big skills shortage

According to analyst firm Gartner, Big Data is at the portion of the hype cycle called the “peak of inflated expectations”. The business world is awash with all sorts of claims about the magic of Big Data…
Corporate data, once resigned to magnetic tapes, is now able to be manipulated on a much finer grained scale. TunnelBug/Flickr

Big data and big business: it’s what you do with it that matters

The crucial thing about “big data” is the data. “Big” is relative, and while size often matters, real disruption can come from data of any size. This is not a new idea, being several hundred years old…
‘Big Data’ services track. every stream, download to allow for easier payment negotiations shutterstock.com

Revisiting royalties in the music industry: the promise of “Big Data”

For those who believe the music industry’s aim should be to encourage creativity, Robert Fripp’s diary makes for depressing reading. The veteran guitarist, founder of King Crimson, has published the diary…
Big agriculture, big data, big weather. Chemophilia

Big data lets global corps bet on the threat of climate change

The recent news of Monsanto’s US$930m acquisition of data science company Climate Corporation, raises important questions about the economies developing in response to climate change. A new generation…
Your daily movements are simple, predictable and useful to know. Thuany Gabriela

Your phone knows the three places you visit each day

We lead busy, complex lives. But how many different places will you visit today? And how many different ways could you organise your travel between those places? The answer, according to a new study published…
Were you one of the 50 million people affected by the LivingSocial data breach? El Ojo Inoportuno - fotografía Lo-Fi

Once more into the data breach: the LivingSocial hack and you

Oh look, everyone … another data breach! LivingSocial, an international social service network with a presence in Australia, acknowledged last week it had been hacked, with exposure of information about…
Balancing the priorities of industry and the public is one of the greatest challenges of open health. Truthout.org

The tension at the heart of open health oversight

Open health is the intersection between health care and information communications technologies. We’ve previously talked about what it is and why people should care about it, the problems that may occur…
Researchers are now dealing with bigger datasets than ever before, such as surface elevation across a whole continent. NICTA/Geoscience Australia

Big Data poses big questions, so how do we answer them?

In recent years we’ve seen an explosion in the number of sensors and embedded computer devices being used by consumers and in a range of industries. New cars have several computers and sensing capabilities…
Many solutions to the challenge of digital preservation have been developed or are in the pipeline. an untrained eye

Hooray, we’re digital natives – so who preserves our culture?

It’s estimated that in 2011 a truly staggering 1.8 zettabytes of digital information was created. Or to put it in more meaningful terms, that’s 57.5 billion 32-gigabyte iPads full. Recent articles about…
Open health is one side of “open data” policies being pursued by countries all over the world. Kate Ter Haar

Open health: what is it and why should you care?

“Open health” captures a broad set of information technologies that will change the way we approach health and health care. It encompasses “ehealth” (the storage and provision of personal medical information…

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