Big Data

Examining Elite Data Power

Monday, August 14, 2017 Comment big data

The concept of “big data” has been the subject of considerable hype and speculation in recent years. So much so that the dominant technologies and technical practices that generate big data — data analytics, algorithms and machine learning — are now commonly described as “artificial intelligence” instead. As a result, Ian Bogost argues, there has been “an explosion of supposed-AI in media, industry and technology.” Despite emerging punctures in the big data and AI hype bubbles, it remains hard to dispute that digitally produced, collected and analysed forms of data have been vested with certain powers


Watchworthy Wednesday: How AI Will Transform Medical Practice

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 Comment Dr. Chang

Armed with reams of data, a patient’s father convinced Dr. Anthony C. Chang, his daughter’s pediatric cardiologist, to proceed with her surgery. “A data scientist, the father of one of my congenital heart defect patients, really wanted to give me more data than we typically get so he tabulated the pulse oximetry readings on his daughter and plotted it out for me and convinced me that we needed to push ahead with surgery,” Chang said. The chief intelligence and innovation officer and medical director of the Heart Failure Program at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC),


Coding for What?

Monday, April 03, 2017 Comment coding

The most recent series of the popular conspiracy drama “Homeland” features a shadow intelligence agency dedicated to producing and circulating fake news and computational propaganda via fake social media user accounts. Run by a TV shock-jock whose authority seems to surpass that even of the CIA, and who bears obvious resemblance to Steve Bannon, the agency is primarily staffed by young coders and programmers, who have been tasked with waging a secret information war against an incoming President-elect. This part of the plot of “Homeland” dramatizes quite well troubling current events whereby computer coding is now understood


Watchworthy Wednesday: Podcast Examines Human Rights Data Analysis

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 Comment Iraq body count

“Data is always lying to you… but, we can fix it, sometimes, maybe.” That’s how Patrick Ball, director of research for the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, opens his podcast, “Understanding Patterns of Mass Violence with Data and Statistics.” Published earlier this month, the podcast is part of Databites, a speaker series by Data & Society, a research institute in New York City that focuses on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development. The idea that observable data are the same as patterns of behavior is a “naïve model,” Ball says, adding that


Semi-automated Luxury Parenting

Monday, January 09, 2017 Comment doll house furnishings

The toy company Mattel recently announced a wi-fi speaker-based voice assistant for children. Known as Aristotle, the toddler-proof alternative to Google Home or Amazon Echo is planned for launch this summer. Designed to live in the child’s bedroom, Aristotle can answer children’s questions and act as a “smart baby monitor,” but it also has sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence capacities to augment and automate the complex task of parenting. Is this just a helpful gadget for family life, or a sign of a new kind of AI nanny state where smart systems will be performing


Schooling the Platform Society

Monday, October 24, 2016 Comment circuit board

Social media platforms have become key parts of everyday life. The use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Spotify and so on has become so widespread that some commentators have begun to speak of an emerging “platform society” and of “platform capitalism.” At the same time, we are seeing the development of new platforms for use in schools. What might be the impact on education of the emergence of a platform society and platform capitalism? The sociologists of social media Jose van Dijck and Thomas Poell have argued that “over the past decade, social media platforms have penetrated deeply


Critical Educational Questions for Big Data, Part 2

Thursday, September 08, 2016 Comment server

I started a list of critical questions for big data in education earlier this week. This is a big topic, raising lots of big questions and serious topics and problems for further debate and discussion. Here, I focus on questions about big data ownership, divides, algorithmic accountability, issues about voice and literacy, and, finally, ethical implications and challenges of big data in education. Who “owns” educational big data? The sociologist Evelyn Ruppert has asked, “who owns big data?” noting that numerous people, technologies, practices and actions are involved in how data is shaped, made and captured.


Critical Educational Questions for Big Data

Monday, September 05, 2016 Comment computer wires

Big data has arrived in education. Educational data science, learning analytics, computer adaptive testing, assessment analytics, educational data mining, adaptive learning platforms, new cognitive systems for learning and even educational applications based on artificial intelligence are fast inhabiting the educational landscape, in schools, colleges and universities, as well as in the networked spaces of online learning. I was recently asked what I thought were some the most critical questions about big data in education today. This reminded me of the highly influential paper “Critical questions for big data” by danah boyd and Kate Crawford, in which


The Secret Sauce in Pokémon Go: Big Data

Thursday, July 14, 2016 Comment Pokemon Go screen shots

Unless you’ve been holed-up in a cave playing Minecraft, you’ve heard about (and possibly even played) the new augmented reality (AR) mobile game sweeping the globe, Pokémon Go. For sure, AR can be exciting and compelling, when properly designed, offering us an experience of co-presence with a virtual character or object. And, it’d be understandable if you attributed Nintendo’s success to its use of the AR camera. But, you’d be wrong. The game’s AR succeeds, in fact, because it turned big data into a game. With Pokémon Go, we are offered the opportunity to pretend our


The Boundaries of Data Collection

Thursday, January 28, 2016 Comment magnified data codes depicting privacy issue

I want to take a moment to examine how data collection has changed for us who teach and assess students. In the digitally augmented classroom, there should be concern for both corporate privacy and interpersonal privacy. While we have limited control over the corporate tracking and data-collection that takes place, it is possible to allow varying levels of interpersonal privacy in the digital classroom. To make participation highly visible, down to seeing who contributed what line in a paper or slide in a slideshow, brings in echos of the dreaded panopticon. Often, when I speak to