Data is among the raw materials that enable thinkers and innovators of all stripes to frame research questions, understand cultural patterns, and subvert habitual practices. What is new today is the unprecedented velocity, variety, and volume of data enabled by the digital turn, and the proliferation of devices that record and transmit it. Data is bigger, and avoiding clichés when talking about it is increasingly difficult. Whether it’s fighting crime, improving public health, solving the perils of dating, or optimizing transport links, this colossal wave of information–often termed Big Data–has invariably transformed our lives. For some, the application of data in the arts is anathema. For others, it offers a new source of inspiration and medium of expression, and a potential to curate the museum experience at both micro and macro levels.
Watch the videos from the salon and explore some of these questions: If big Data is only as good as the intelligence we glean from it, what kind of intellectual infrastructure is needed to optimize its use? What kind of translation tools? Who does Big Data benefit? What can we do to curtail the unbridled “what’s yours is mine” approach Big Data engenders–and do we need to? How can museums mobilize Big Data to enrich the museum experience for visitors, reach new audiences online, and transform scholarly research? Building on the discussion in Salon 12: On Philanthropy, how can museums transform Big Data into compelling metrics for prospective patrons, members, supporters, and sponsors?
This salon took place on February 24th, 2015.
Hilary Mason is founder and CEO of Fast Forward Labs, a machine intelligence research company, and Data Scientist in Residence at Accel Partners. Previously, Hilary was chief scientist at bitly. She cohosts DataGotham, a conference for New York’s homegrown data community, and cofounded HackNY, a nonprofit that helps engineering students find opportunities in New York’s creative technical economy. Hilary served on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Technology Advisory Board, and is a member of Brooklyn hacker collective NYC Resistor.
Mark Hansen is a statistician by training who works at the triangulation of data, art, and technology. He is currently the Director of the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media and Innovation, and Professor of journalism at Columbia University. Mark works with data in an essentially journalistic practice, crafting stories through algorithm, computation, and visualization. In collaboration with Ben Rubin and Jer Thorp, Mark explores new modes of engagement with data at The Office for Creative Research. Previously, Mark was a longstanding visiting researcher at The New York Times R&D Lab.
Hannah Donovan is a designer and speaker based in New York City. Hannah has worked at the intersection of music, design, and technology for the last decade, making digital products in music and entertainment. She currently leads product design at Ripcord. Previously, Hannah cofounded This Is My Jam, with incubation from The Echo Nest; led design at Last.fm in London; and designed for youth-focused brands in Toronto.
Aaron Straup Cope is Head of Engineering (Internets and Computers) at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. Aaron has been instrumental in the development of the Cooper Hewitt Pen. His work centers on the potential of the Internet to bridge people, ideas, and communities, and to realize the potential of the network. Previously, Aaron was the senior engineer at Flickr, and design technologist at Stamen Design. Creator of prettymaps and map=yes projects, Aaron’s work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the NACIS Atlas of Design, and 20x200.
Danah Boyd Networked Privacy Personal Democracy Forum (06.06.11)
Kenneth Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger Dictatorship of Big Data MIT Technology Review (05.31.13)
Ellen Gamerman When the Art is Watching You The Wall Street Journal (12.11.14)
Jörg Heiser Safety in Numbers? Frieze (03.14)
Anab Jain Valley of The Meatpuppets Superflux (06.29.14)
Lev Manovich Software Takes Command (06.13.13)
Gary Marcus Steamrolled by Big Data The New Yorker (03.29.13)
Hilary Mason and DJ Patil Data Driven: Creating a Data Culture (01.15)
Michael Nielsen Who Owns Big Data? MIT Technology Review (01.05.15)
Paul Ohm Don’t Build a Database of Ruin Harvard Business Review (08.23.12)
Michael Pepi Is a Museum a Database?: Institutional Conditions in Net Utopia e-flux (12.14)
Mark Rolston The Next Era of Designers Will Use Data as Their Medium Wired (11.27.14)
Zeynek Tufekci Is The Internet Good or Bad? Yes. Medium (02.14.14)