The Myth of Comprehensive Data

Ubiquitus and fast can get close to predicting chaotic?

Dart-Throwing Chimp

“What about using Twitter sentiment?”

That suggestion came to me from someone at a recent Data Science DC meetup, after I’d given a short talk on assessing risks of mass atrocities for the Early Warning Project, and as the next speaker started his presentation on predicting social unrest. I had devoted the first half of my presentation to a digression of sorts, talking about how the persistent scarcity of relevant public data still makes it impossible to produce global forecasts of rare political crises—things like coups, insurgencies, regime breakdowns, and mass atrocities—that are as sharp and dynamic as we would like.

The meetup wasn’t the first time I’d heard that suggestion, and I think all of the well-intentioned people who have made it to me have believed that data derived from Twitter would escape or overcome those constraints. In fact, the Twitter stream embodies them. Over the past two decades, technological, economic, and political changes have…

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The Internet of First Responder Things (IoFRT)

Drilling into the world of IOT.

the Chief Seattle Geek blog

IoT-toasterThe “Internet of Things” or IoT is a common buzzword in the technology community these days.  It refers to the increasingly prevalent distribution of sensors throughout the natural world, and the connection of those sensors – as well as other machines – to the Internet.

The running joke is that IoT is about putting your home refrigerator, thermostat, washer, dryer, microwave, range, TVs, computers, smart phones and even toasters on the Internet, or at least connecting them so they can talk to each other.  Now what a toaster would say to a TV, or what the conversations between a washer and a dryer might include, could certainly make for a lot of talk show jokes and lists on a David Letterman show (should he return).

But clearly creating such an “Internet of Household Things” or IoHT would be quite useful.  Take, for example, the urgent water crisis in California and…

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Graphene – Blah or Star?

At Graphene week in Manchester and the new National Graphene Institute. Its a great new building with lots of space and facility. I have visited a few of these faculties, such as the Center for Process Innovation and several Catapults. All are great examples of the UK government putting money into the knowledge economy and especially science and Technology. Graphene has been an odd story though. Since its discovery UK success stories have been a bit thin on the ground. I have begun to wonder if the truth will live up to the blah blah hype. More to the point – Has the UK missed the boat on Graphene? Was it really two academics playing with pencils and sticky tape on a friday afternoon?  Us Brits love stories of eccentric Men in Sheds making the eureka discovery – and that has been the popular image of Graphene – but we do ourselves a big disservice by promoting this as the academic norm. There are very good reasons why Manchester is the home to Graphene and they are modern rigorous and serious reasons. Manchester university is home to world class capability in materials science, electronics, composites and life sciences. In total 200+ research accademics across multiple departments are involved in defining, measuring testing and applying Grapene and other one and two dimensional materials. The National Graphene Institute will bring them together with industry partners to solve real problems.   And the Hype? Measured quantified and predictable results have been shown for membrane filters that purify water, supercapacitors with power storage densities of LiPo batteries and life sciences applications for drug delivery are all well advanced. Blah Blah?  Not this time.

We are all on the Tablets now

Was it a surprise to anyone when Ofcom published a report documenting the growing of Tablets in the UK? ( Any one who commuts on a regular basis will know how popular they are and I am a complete convert. I use mine for meeting notes, presentations, writing this blog, keeping up on linkedin and Facebook as well as watching TV, searching the web and generally doing digital stuff.

The part that caught my eye though was the demographic.

” Tablets are proving particularly popular among people aged 35-54 with nearly two thirds of this age group (64%) having a tablet.”

The classic demographic target for our consumer marketers is the 18 to 34 age group due to perceived greater spending power, openness to new ideas and as yet unformed brand loyalty. Is this another example of Steve Jobs spotting a way to buck the trend? Jobs was famously ambiguous about who or what the iPad was for when it was introduced. Though i suspect that even a company with the deep pockets of Apple had more than gut instinct in their business plan. But would they have targeted this age group?