November 15, 2013
TechCrunch makes a big deal about this headline: “ClearStory Data Designs An Analytics Platform That Is About The Experience As Much As The Technology.” ClearStory Data is one of the first companies to launch an analytics platform that can offer rich visuals and sharing capabilities. The graphics and sharing come out on the user interface, but behind the pretty graphics and social media graces there is something else.
The article states:
“On the back-end, ClearStory has a platform for integrating a company’s internal and external data using an in-memory database technology, said CEO Sharmila Shahani-Mulligan in a phone interview this week. This can be relational or NoSQL data, point-of-sale information or demographic statistics from external sources. Its advantage is in the ability to process multiple types of data on the fly and then combine that with a modern user interface.”
Not a bad new way to use analytics, especially when the idea behind it is that users will be able to manipulate their data like a story rather than a boring data report. Think about it. What would you rather do, read a griping novel or the latest user agreement for iTunes? Turning shopping or Internet browsing into a story. Maybe this could be a new form of writing or even blogging where social media turns into a giant events catalog of how people shop.
Whitney Grace, November 15, 2013
November 15, 2013
Hadoop was named after a toy elephant, so it is only appropriate that as a form of charity the company is donating money to saving elephants from poachers. nature and technology have often been perceived to be at odds with one another, constantly battling for dominance over the planet. Technology can save nature and analytical data techniques have been used to solve problems according to the recent Gigaom article, “Buy Datameer’s Hadoop Application, Save An Elephant.”
The article states:
“We’ve written before about applying big data techniques to help solve societal problems, and now we have a case of applying the revenue from big data software sales directly to a cause. In this case Datameer, a startup that applies a spreadsheet interface to Hadoop, is selling a “charity edition” of its product for $49 and donating all the proceeds during the month of November to a conservation charity called Pro Wildlife.”
Some cynics may view this gesture as a marketing ploy to buy a product that meant to solve the big data problem. (Actually, it only allows users to download to a single desktop and analysis 10 GB, so it is more like big data for the single data-obsessed user). On the bright side, you get to help save the largest, living land mammal. Who does not like elephants?
Whitney Grace, November 15, 2013
November 12, 2013
Where do the fields of neuroscience and predictive analytics intersect? Apparently at the University of Sussex. Phys.org reveals, “Scientists Identify a Mathematical ‘Crystal Ball’ that May Predict Calamities.” It makes sense when you consider that both disciplines deal with complex systems.
In systems ranging in scale from the planet’s climate to an epileptic’s brain, the transition from a healthy to an unhealthy state is marked by a peak in information flow between elements. Until now, it has been difficult to impossible to predict these peaks in advance. Working together, scientists from the University of Sussex’s Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science and the Centre for Research in Complex Systems at Australia’s Charles Sturt University have made a breakthrough regarding such predictions. The article explains:
“Essentially this means finding a way to characterize, mathematically, the extent to which the parts of a complex system are simultaneously segregated (they all behave differently) and integrated (they all depend on each other). In the present study the research team managed to do just this, and to show for the first time that their measure reliably predicts phase transitions in standard systems studied by physicists now for many decades (the so-called ‘Ising’ model).
“Professor Anil Seth, Co-Director of the Sackler Centre, says: ‘The implications of the work are far-reaching. If the results generalise to other real-world systems, we might have ways of predicting calamitous events before they happen, which would open the possibility for intervention to prevent the transition from occurring.’”
Such interventions would obviously be beneficial in many circumstances. As this science progresses, we may be surprised at how widely the method could be applied. The possibilities seem endless. Can an application to horse racing be far behind?
Cynthia Murrell, November 12, 2013
November 10, 2013
The article on SmartData Collective titled Can You Predict Crowd Behavior? Big Data Can argues that prediction of real-world events like protesting and violent conflict are already being successfully predicted, not by historians or economists but by data scientists, specifically those at Recorded Future. We have all heard about Nate Silver’s voting predictions, but according to the article, Recorded Future has taken crowd behavior predicting even further,
“Back in January 2010 a small startup company called Recorded Future released a blog post claiming that Yemen would likely have food shortages and flooding that year. Due to the combination, the country was headed for conflict. By September of that year not only had Yemen experienced flooding but was also combating food shortages… By February 2012, the protests had turned violent with protesters killed by gunmen and the Yemen President suffering severe injuries after a bomb was planted in his compound.”
While we are not sure how this is working out in the real world, with actual events, businesses have certainly embraced the idea that they can sell things to people before the people even know they need them. The problem might be how to avoid creeping the customer out like the expectant mother debacle at Target. Meanwhile the issue of privacy rears its head; apparently it is never too early to start predicting bad behavior.
Chelsea Kerwin, November 10, 2013
November 7, 2013
It is only human to wish we could take back hurtful or embarrassing words. On the other hand, it is tough to search for information that is no longer there. University of Edinburgh researchers have been looking into the motives behind deleted Twitter missives, we learn in Digital Trends‘ piece, “New Research is Revealing What Tweets Get Deleted—and Why.” You can see the study as a PDF here.
Not surprisingly, a particularly rich field for deleted tweets lies in the political realm. Writer Kate Knibbs tells us:
“Nicko Margolies, projects coordinator for the Sunlight Foundation (the organization that runs Politiwoops) says that they’ve noted a number of reasons politicians have chosen to delete their tweets. ‘The ones that we find most interesting are the situations where politicians change their position on something or craft their language into a message others are using. This is often seen through popular hashtags or talking points that many politicians echo to their followers, bringing the issue (and their position) to the forefront of the digital conversation,’ he says.”
Of course. The team says, though, that public figures are not the only ones concerned with how their 140-words-or-less may be interpreted. They found that many reconsidered tweets contained curse words. In what I suspect is a related finding, they discovered people are more likely to delete tweets very late at night.
Tweets containing sensitive information like social security numbers or email addresses are also more likely to be removed. Knibbs sensibly wonders whether such deletions increased after revelations about NSA surveillance came out, but that information is not available. She hopes other researchers take up the topic of deleted online postings because, she says, what we choose to redact reveals much about online behavior. Such studies could even prompt us to pause before we post something we’d regret. Maybe.
Cynthia Murrell, November 07, 2013
November 2, 2013
Simon Creasey from Computer Weekly recently reported on the outcome of the latest Twitter firestorm in the article “Failure to Invest in Sentiment Analytics Could Lead to Brand Damage.”
According to the article, a disgruntled British Airways passenger decided use a paid-for promoted tweet to blast his complaints to thousands of Twitter followers. As you can imagine, the tweet went viral and was shared and re-shared until it received global coverage. While PR disasters are often unavoidable, businesses are developing social media sentiment analysis software to contain them.
The article concludes:
““Monitoring what people are saying about your products and industry can help you design your products and propositions for the future and in that sense Twitter acts as a great market research tool as well as a lead-generation tool,” says Sinclair.
“Similarly, if you monitor what people are saying about your brand it can also help you with customer service and PR. There are many examples of companies who have found themselves under social media attack. Failure to invest in these kinds of tools could easily result in significant damage to a company’s reputation and brand.”
These days, social media is ever expanding and it is impossible to keep track of everything being said about your company’s brand, products, and employees. In order to avoid PR disasters like the one that happened to British Airways, companies should invest in the latest sentiment analysis technologies.
Jasmine Ashton, November 02, 2013
November 2, 2013
The Linguamatics Blog recently reported on the outcome of the 2013 Text Mining Summit in the post “Pharma and Healthcare Come Together to See the Future of Text Mining.”
According to the article, this year’s event drew a record crowd of over 85 attendees who had the opportunity to listen to industry experts from the pharma and healthcare sector.
The article summarizes a few event highlights:
“Delegates were provided with an excellent opportunity to explore trends in text mining and analytics, natural language processing and knowledge discovery. Delegates discovered how I2E is delivering valuable intelligence from text in a range of applications, including the mining of scientific literature, news feeds, Electronic Health Records (EHRs), clinical trial data, FDA drug labels and more. Customer presentations demonstrated how I2E helps workers in knowledge driven organizations meet the challenge of information overload, maximize the value of their information assets and increase speed to insight.”
Events like the Text Analytics Summit are excellent opportunities for members of the data analytics community to gather and share their insights and new advances in the industry.
Jasmine Ashton, November 02, 2013
October 31, 2013
The jargon-heavy article on Nieman Journalist Lab titled The Newsonomics of “Little Dad,” Data Scientists, and Conversion Specialists introduces the push big news companies are making towards data analysis. The article suggests that although news companies have lagged behind other web-based companies, they have started to seriously invest in their engineers and in mining the data they have on their visitors habits. Some expected emphasis is misplaced, instead of Big Data, Little Data is suddenly of great import. The article explains what one company experienced,
“We might have thought that progressive Schibsted would be farther along in the data sciences… Long-time Schibsted strategist Sverre Munck says that despite the company’s great successes and acute reading of changing consumer behavior, it still felt like it didn’t know what it needed to know. “Our analytics were haphazard, ad hoc, case-by-case,” says Munck, Schibsted’s soon-to-be-retired executive vice president. Where Schibsted believes its unique strategies are right…— it invests heavily. It’s now doing that in analytics.”
Some of the article is difficult to grasp, which may be a good thing. One surprise that caught the engineers off-guard was that a huge number of digital subscribers never registered for free before paying for a subscription. The focus on registered users shifted with this development, and this is only the beginning.
Chelsea Kerwin, October 31, 2013
October 30, 2013
The science journal Nature examines the changing state of academic journals in, “Open Access: The True Cost of Science Publishing.” Writer Richard Van Noorden goes in-depth on the costs behind publishing research articles, the factors behind those costs, and how open access publishing may turn the whole field on its ear (and whether this is a good thing). Let’s start with some crazy-sounding numbers; the article tells us:
“Data from the consulting firm Outsell in Burlingame, California, suggest that the science-publishing industry generated $9.4 billion in revenue in 2011 and published around 1.8 million English-language articles — an average revenue per article of roughly $5,000. Analysts estimate profit margins at 20–30% for the industry, so the average cost to the publisher of producing an article is likely to be around $3,500–4,000.”
That sure seems like a lot. Traditional publishers say that fans of open access understate the value they add to each article while overstating how much they make on them. It is difficult, though, to examine these claims, since these journals play their financial cards close to the vest. Such secrecy may eventually give way before the wealth of information available about open access options, which Noorden covers thoroughly. More and more researchers will hesitate to take the big names at their word on costs.
It is worth noting one downside to the current proliferation of open access journals: quality control. The traditional journals maintain that their high publishing fees are partially justified by the effort they put into sorting and disqualifying submissions. Both those publishers and open access journals ensure quality through the peer-review process, but recent findings bring doubt to the reliability of this measure at certain, newer publishers. Though the transition to open access journals may appear inevitable to some, the old-school players seem determined to defend their model. Will they succeed?
Cynthia Murrell, October 30, 2013
October 23, 2013
Predictive analytics is the hot topic on hand and we discuss many of the processes we find in the news headlines, but we have written very little about the involved user interface. We pulled up “Three Insanely Great Dashboards From Recorded Future-Predictive Analytics Part 4” from The FusionCharts Blog that takes a look at that very topic. Recorded Future is regarded as the leader in predictive analytics and they have designed three dashboards that make the process simple and interesting.
Writing about these dashboards does not give you a complete glimpse about what they have to offer. Follow the jump for screenshots to get a complete picture about the dashboards. They present data in an easy to read, interactive way: web analytics, mapping, and bubble visualization chart. Each visualization offers rich and fun ways to display data. Recorded Future has more than these three ways to share information and only represent a snippet of the new ways people view data:
“…[T]hese types of visualizations are becoming popular, and are the new breed of visualizations stemming from the big data revolution. While nobody seems to have figured out exactly how to put them to use, they can’t be discounted as useless either. As we get familiar with unstructured, and semi-structured data, these types of visualization could become mainstream, and change the way we consume data.”
As consumer habits change, so must the way data is fed to them. Recorded Future has numerous ways to share the data, but we wonder which one will become popular.
Whitney Grace, October 23, 2013