Monday, May 24, 2010

Human-data interface

There is starting to be more data than ever available to individuals, including personal data, every detail of interactions, activities, behaviors, and health habits tracked. Some contend that humans are not ready to interact with massive data and that a common response is to ignore it. However, humans quickly adapt to most situations and this is the likely course with big data interaction.

Data is likely to only become more pervasive and intimate, and extraordinarily useful to those who can harness it.

There is a structural factor with data collection that could be masking the value of the information – timeframes and scale. Data is collected on daily or hourly timeframes, but may be most useful 1) being dormant, a reserve reference with which to compare when anomalies arise, and 2) longitudinally, reflecting attributes over long time scales; seeing a change in sleep patterns over decades for example. Another example is that while it might seem useless to record one's temperature every day, knowing the average temperatures and heart rates of individuals in a community and any deltas (changes) could be quite useful in predicting the spread and magnitude of pandemics such as H1N1.

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