I’m at the Engaging Big Data 2013 conference put on by Senseable City Lab at MIT. After the morning’s opener by Noam Chomsky (!), I’m leading one of 12 concurrent sessions. I’m supposed to talk for 15-20 mins and then lead a discussion. Here’s a summary of what I’m planning on saying:
Overall point: To look at the end state of the knowledge network/Commons we want to get to
Big Data started as an Info Age concept: magnify the storage and put it on a network. But you can see how the Net is affecting it:
First, there are a set of values that are being transformed:
- From accuracy to scale
- From control to innovation
- From ownership to collaboration
- From order to meaning
Second, the Net is transforming knowledge, which is changing the role of Big Data
- From filtered to scaled
- From settled to unsettled and under discussion
- From orderly to messy
- From done in private to done in public
- From a set of stopping points to endless lilnks
If that’s roughly the case, then we can see a larger Net effect. The old Info Age hope (naive, yes, but it still shows up at times) was that we’d be able to create models that ultimate interoperate and provide an ever-increasing and ever-more detailed integrated model of the world. But in the new Commons, we recognize that not only won’t we ever derive a single model, there is tremendous strength in the diversity of models. This Commons then is enabled if:
- All have access to all
- There can be social engagement to further enrich our understanding
- The conversations default to public
So, what can we do to get there? Maybe:
- Build platforms and services
- Support Open Access (and, as Lewis Hyde says, “beat the bounds” of the Commons regularly)
- Support Linked Open Data
Questions if the discussion needs kickstarting:
- What Big Data policies would help the Commons to flourish?
- How can we improve the diversity of those who access and contribute to the Commons?
- What are the personal and institutional hesitations that are hindering the further development of the Commons?
- What role can and should Big Data play in knowledge-focused discussions? With participants who are not mathematically or statistically inclined?
- Does anyone have experience with Linked Data? Tell us about it?
I just checked the agenda, which of course I should have done earlier, and discovered that of the 12 sessions today,
1211 are being led by men. Had I done that homework, I would not have accepted their invitation.