Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Big data and the assembly of global insight out of small scale, local and micro-local data 6: developing synergies between ubiquitous computing and communications, and open-access big data

Posted in business and convergent technologies, reexamining the fundamentals by Timothy Platt on January 17, 2014

This is my sixth installment to a series on big data and how wide-ranging and even globally significant insight can be developed out of small-scale local and even micro-local data (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2, postings 265 and loosely following for Parts 1-5.)

I wrote in Part 5 about the issues and challenges of big data access inequality, and particularly where big data resources are developed for exclusive use of groups or organizations that strictly pursue their own agendas and regardless of impact on others, for how they do this. I write here of an alternative path forward where big data and its capabilities for creating new knowledge and insight are developed at least in significant part as openly, publically accessible resources. And I start out this discussion by at least briefly and in broad brushstroke considering what this resource might be used for, and which current ventures are at least as of now most effectively developing towards more public uses.

The scope and range of information that people seek out and that people share online are essentially open ended, spanning the entire range of human interest and experience. For purpose of this discussion, I collapse all of that down to its most fundamental essentials. People ask information about:

• What and its closely related How, and where selection is made Which. And Google as an online search resource dominates there, serving as a conduit to a myriad of more specific and specialized online resources.
• Who, and this is to a significant degree dominated by social networking sites such as Facebook and its more specialized alternatives (e.g. LinkedIn for business social networking.)
• And Where and When, and Google is currently seeking out a dominant position there, though the proliferation of smart phones with their GPS locators and now Google Glass with its soon to arrive non-Google alternatives are redefining what local search and local connectivity even mean.

I have written several times now in this series that:

• “In its extreme and as a perhaps ideal, big data and its accumulation of raw and processed data seeks to become in effect, a digital representation of all of us and of all of the world around us, as we interact with it and are affected and influenced by it.”

When generally publically involving and including big data are combined with the everywhere and all the time connectivity and communications capabilities of smart phones and other increasingly ubiquitous nodes for connecting in, we approach a situation where at least potentially, any knowledge or information can be immediately available to essentially anyone, anywhere and at any time.

• Local and hyper-local search become killer applications in this type of context, where people can find what they want when they want it and where they can most locally find it.
• Local and hyper-local also means being able to find where anyone who you seek to find currently is, and find who you know who happens to be in your immediately current local, at any given time. You find what looks to be a great Chinese restaurant for dim sum? You can find friends who happen to be in your area and real-time invite those nearby friends to join you there.
• Local and hyper-local in this also means being able to find or share online reviews and other crowdsourced insight as metadata about stores, movie theatres or movies playing in them, restaurants or essentially any other type of local venue of interest. This means finding places, and it also means finding in equally real-time what other peoples’ experiences there have been like, and either in general of just from among your own known friends and acquaintances.

And this also means that when you first meet someone you can immediately look them up online and find out as you meet them essentially anything on them that is in any way a matter of public record, with their social networking profiles and related social media presence just a first step to what is already increasingly available about most all of us, everywhere.

As this type and level of real-time connectivity and information and knowledge access shift from being a possibility to being taken-for-granted reality, the digital divide between connected in and online, and left out will become more severe and in disruptively new ways – and in ways that are that much more harmful to those still left out. This also serves to make it more of an imperative that even just basic literacy include increased awareness and discernment in selecting and evaluating information found, as to relevancy and likely reliability. I will delve more fully into these issues in a next series installment. Meanwhile, you can find this series and other related material at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time 2 and also in my first Ubiquitous Computing and Communications directory page. And I also include this series in my directory: Reexamining the Fundamentals.


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