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Big Data and Us

Who can we trust in the world of Big Data and how is it changing our lives? With data researcher Adam Tanner, governance expert Karin Von Ompteda and designer Sharath Srinivasan.

From digital exahust to data-brokers, algorithms and data art, who and what can we believe in the world of Big Data? Bridget Kendall asks data researcher Adam Tanner, governance expert Sharath Srinivasan and designer Karin Von Ompteda to dive into the data lake.

(Photo: part of a honeycomb data-art installation: ‘Colony’ by David Hedberg and Gabriele Dini)

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41 minutes

Last on

Mon 10 Nov 2014 03:05GMT


  • Adam Tanner

    The Business of Big Data

    Duration: 10:35

  • Sharath Srinivasan

    Big Data and Africa’s Voices

    Duration: 09:14

  • 60 Second Idea:

    Global Word Cloud Night

    Duration: 04:55

  • Karin von Ompteda

    Big Data and Art

    Duration: 12:35

Adam Tanner

Adam Tanner
Adam Tanner is a fellow at Harvard University’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the author of ‘What Stays in Vegas’, an investigation into the world of personal data. He recalls his experience of being trailed by the East German Stasi in  the 1980s and claims today’s data brokers are far more effective at gathering information. Following a trail of digital exhaust, data brokers collect our data every time we shop online or browse the internet. From Indian dating sites to Las Vegas casinos, Adam argues that while personal data fuels our economies it also threatens our privacy.

Photo credit: Clarissa Tanner

Sharath Srinivasan

Sharath Srinivasan
Dr Sharath Srinivasan leads the University of Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights and recently co-founded the Africa’s Voices Foundation. Decisions by Africa’s governments, donors and development agencies are often taken with limited knowledge of public opinion. Sharath tells us how the Africa’s Voices project is using Big Data algorithms to analyse hundreds of thousands of SMS messages sent to radio stations and comic book publishers, capturing the voices of ordinary African citizens and ensuring their opinions are heard.

Karin von Ompteda

Karin von Ompteda
Karin von Ompteda is a designer, researcher and Assistant Professor at OCAD university in Canada. Having trained as a biologist, Karin warns us that data is never neutral and that beautiful data visualisations are sometimes highly misleading.  She tells us about the Data Manifestation workshops she runs at the Royal College of Art in London and the art installations which take Big Data off the page and screen and turn it into objects and experiences - from a giant honeycomb dripping London’s data  to a data performance that set a data-set on fire.

60 second Idea to Change the World: Global Word Cloud Night

60 second Idea to Change the World: Global Word Cloud Night
Sharath Srinivasan imagines a Global Word Cloud Night which would enable people across the world to share answers to a common question. Using SMS, social media and Big Data computing, people's thoughts and solutions would be projected into the night sky in Global Word Clouds which allow individuals and communities to share and exchange ideas.


  • Mon 10 Nov 2014 03:05GMT