Big Data/Small Minds
Imagine that you are having a Big Thought. You know, the kind of Thought that could Start a Conversation on the Internet, which is clearly the point of having Big Thoughts in the first place (as well as small thoughts/all thoughts, but let’s leave that aside for now). Let’s say your Big Thought was “I don’t like how tech companies determine new hires based on antiquated models of evaluation.” (In this hypothetical, you also didn’t read this month’s Atlantic cover story.)
How to express your Big Thought best? If you’re mad data scientist “Will,” you’d apply to HowAboutWe.com, get rejected, and then send a massive missive to the company akin to a sophomore year, 2 am drunk-email you’d send to the person who broke up with you on Valentine’s Day. AND THEN YOU WOULD CC A BUNCH OF MEDIA REPORTERS.
Mayor Bloomberg has his own geek squad of statisticians who are using sexy, sexy big data to make the city better. [New York Times]
Zuck’s political ambitions continue to grow with the news that he will join a superpac with techies and Republican strategists that will focus on issues like immigration and education reform. Psst Zuck, if you’re gonna target Congress, you might have to start wearing an actual suit. [AllThingsD]
Lawmakers are already trying to ban Google Glass while driving. One step at a time, everyone. [CNET]
Hey all you people who care about privacy: look what you did to Google Reader! [AllThingsD]
The Winklevii are back, and they have a nicer Silicon Alley office than you. [New York Times]
At the eleventh hour, a security bug was discovered in Facebook’s “Midnight Delivery” feature, which made it possible to see and even delete users’ New Year’s messages to friends. Whoops! It’s been fixed. [TNW]
As part of a plan to cut costs, Zynga has shut down a raft of games over the course of December. The latest: PetVille and Mafia Wars 2. [TechCrunch]
Guess Nate Silver’s election-day triumph didn’t singlehandedly slay the gut feeling in favor of big data, after all: “What is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?” [New York Times]
Techies we lost in 2012. [Wired]
“But there is a darker possibility, too, which is that some people will own workbots before other people do, and that the people who lack workbots won’t be able to keep up with those to do.” Happy New Year, ya’ll! [New Yorker]
Pity the parentals: They don’t just have to make it through the terrible teenage years, but now the Internet exists to make everything worse. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the most common worry isn’t stranger danger or cyberbullying or even embarrassing Facebook photos. Parents are worried about advertisers.
Teach Me How to Startup
Like “pivot” and “cloud computing,” “big data” is one of those startup buzzwords that gets thrown around indiscriminately–partly because it means different things depending on the intel you’re trying to unearth and partly because it sounds like the kind of futuristic jargon that opens doors. Using machine learning to analyze big data? We can practically see the pitch deck already!
As The Economist noted back in 2010, the deluge of large data sets unleashed by the digital age, “makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.”
CornellNYC is starting to come together. Applications are now being accepted; the infant school has a home with Google until the Roosevelt Island campus is complete. Now the Cornell Daily Sun reports that the debut roster is growing, announcing one name who’ll be doing splitting his time between Ithaca and New York and a semester-long visitor from San Diego.
That faculty lounge is starting to fill up! Provided the faculty lounge is actually David Karp’s sidecar.
Joining UCLA poachee Deborah Estrin (for the first semester, anyway) will be a Cornell professor of electrical and computer engineering, Rajit Manohar, and a University of California at San Diego professor of computer science engineering, Serge Belongie.
Apple in Your Eye
Nowadays Facebook is very cautious around the third rail that is sexual orientation. Sure, there’s a timeline icon just for gay marriage, but the company won’t serve up ladies seeking ladies to advertisers. But that wasn’t always the case.
Digiday has gotten its hands on an interesting piece of Internet history: the social network’s very first pitch to advertisers, from way back in spring 2004. The site was still thefacebook.com, it was only available on select college campuses, Peter Thiel hadn’t invested yet and that random dude was still chilling in the upper lefthand corner.
However, Eduardo Saverin was already talking up the site’s biggest advantage: data, and the targeting that allows advertisers to do.
Even as we speak, you are leaving digital bread crumbs scattered all over the Internet, there for the taking by marketers. Nor do the details have to be anything particularly consequential to translate into a money-making opportunity.
For example: Orbitz has realized that customers who visit its site from a Mac tend to spend more money on hotels. The company is therefore adjusting its search results accordingly.
Like any proud papa, Narrative Science cofounder and CTO Kristian Hammond has ambitions for his article-writing algorithm. In 15 years, he told Wired, 90 percent of news will be computer-generated. In 20 years, there’ll be no topic his company doesn’t cover. He even believes that a computer will win the Pulitzer Prize within five years. Well, it is Big Data Week, after all.
Narrative Science got its start covering the data-driven topics of sports and finance. Then came work from a fast-food company, turning sales figures into regular written reports for franchise-owners. Nowadays, they can even vary tone. Hammond wants to see the company breaking news, though that’ll require investment in data mining and natural language processing. All that leads to a future that looks a little something like this, according to Wired:
Enterprise search is a tough market. But with the release of an upgraded search platform tailored to cash in on big data, plus a snazzy new Brooklyn office, Q-Sensei has big plans and even bigger ambitions.
Created in 2007 from the merger of a German and an American company, Q-Sensei’s primary product is an enterprise software platform, designed to help businesses sort through their vast amounts of internal clutter. But despite picking up a couple of industry awards, the company has largely flown under the radar. Enterprise work just isn’t as flashy as consumer offerings, and besides, Europe has been the team’s focus thus far.