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Stop Hyping Big Data and Start Paying Attention to 'Long Data'

Stop Hyping Big Data and Start Paying Attention to 'Long Data'
Our species can’t seem to escape big data. We have more data inputs, storage, and computing resources than ever, so Homo sapiens naturally does what it has always done when given new tools: It goes even bigger, higher, and bolder. We did it in buildings and now we’re doing it in data. Sure, big data is a powerful lens — some would even argue a liberating one — for looking at our world. But no matter how big that data is or what insights we glean from it, it is still just a snapshot: a moment in time. Samuel Arbesman is an applied mathematician and network scientist. By “long” data, I mean datasets that have massive historical sweep — taking you from the dawn of civilization to the present day. Because as beautiful as a snapshot is, how much richer is a moving picture, one that allows us to see how processes and interactions unfold over time? We’re a species that evolves over ages — not just short hype cycles — so we can’t ignore datasets of long timescale. Editor: Sonal Chokshi @smc90 Related:  Science, technology and innovation to October 2013

For the Internet-Deprived, McDonald's Is Study Hall CITRONELLE, Ala.—Joshua Edwards's eighth-grade paper about the Black Plague came with a McDouble and fries. Joshua sometimes does his homework at a McDonald's MCD 1.79 % restaurant—not because he is drawn by the burgers, but because the fast-food chain is one of the few places in this southern Alabama city of 4,000 where he can get online access free once the public library closes. Cheap smartphones and tablets have put Web-ready technology into more hands than ever. That divide is becoming a bigger problem now that a fast Internet connection has evolved into an essential tool for completing many assignments at public schools. "It is increasingly hard to argue that out-of-school access doesn't matter," said Doug Levin, executive director of a national group of state education technology directors. Moving faster would be expensive. Some are wary of deeper government intervention, arguing that many telecommunications companies are already fast expanding broadband access on their own. Mr.

Cradle turns smartphone into handheld biosensor CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Researchers and physicians in the field could soon run on-the-spot tests for environmental toxins, medical diagnostics, food safety and more with their smartphones. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app for the iPhone that uses the phone's built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules. Having such sensitive biosensing capabilities in the field could enable on-the-spot tracking of groundwater contamination, combine the phone's GPS data with biosensing data to map the spread of pathogens, or provide immediate and inexpensive medical diagnostic tests in field clinics or contaminant checks in the food processing and distribution chain. "We're interested in biodetection that needs to be performed outside of the laboratory," said team leader Brian T. At the heart of the biosensor is a photonic crystal.

Revolutionary "Superman" Memory Crystals Can Store Data Virtually Forever Quartz Crystal photo from Shutterstock While most of us are just getting used to the idea of 3D printing, scientists are already working on technological marvels that operate two dimensions deeper. Researchers at the University of Southampton have succeeded in recording and retrieving five dimensional digital data using a quartz crystal. The ‘Superman’ memory crystal is a futuristic storage technique with unprecedented features – including a 360 terabyte per disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000°C and a practically unlimited lifetime. We’ve all seen those sci-fi movies where a gorgeous alien shoves a pointy crystal into some mega computer and the world is saved. So how does it work? “The self-assembled nanostructures change the way light travels through glass, modifying polarization of light that can then be read by combination of optical microscope and a polarizer, similar to that found in Polaroid sunglasses,” states the release. Via Eureakalert and DVice

A staggering map of the 54 countries that reportedly participated in the CIA’s rendition program Click to enlarge. (Max Fisher -- The Washington Post) After Sept. 11, 2001, the CIA launched a program of "extraordinary rendition" to handle terrorism suspects. The CIA's extraordinary rendition program is over, but its scope is still shrouded in some mystery. Their participation took several forms. Here's what the Open Society report has to say about the staggeringly global participation in the CIA program, including a full list of the countries it names: I was most curious about the involvement of two governments that are very much adversaries of the United States: those of Iran and Syria. Iran was involved in the capture and transfer of individuals subjected to CIA secret detention. The section on Syria is disturbing.

New Zealand Man is 3D-Printing a Fully-Functional 1961 Aston Martin Replica New Zealander Ivan Sentch is 3D printing an entire 1961 Aston Martin DB4 replica! Using a CAD rendering from TurboSquid, which he modified to suit his design goals, Sentch has so far produced 2,500 fiberglass molds and four four-inch sections that he has mounted on a wooden frame and glued into place. He spent about $2,000 on plastics for the 3D printing, and now plans to build a mold for a fiberglass exterior shell. There are only 1,200 existing models of the 1961 Aston Martin DB4 in the world, each costing between several hundred thousand to $1 million on the auction circuit. Because of its limited availability, software engineers can’t get a hold of detailed designs, which eventually forced Sentch to crib a CAD rendering from TurboSquid to get his car built. It may not look like it, but Sentch has been using the 3D printing technology only since last December. So far he’s spent about $2,000 on the 3D printing material and still plans to create the exterior shell out of fiberglass.

Oh, those crazy Frenchies: Facebook faces family photo tax in France High performance access to file storage Facebook should pay the French government for hosting the holiday photos and status updates of the French people, a new report commissioned by the French government has suggested. The new 200-page report* on taxing the digital economy - commissioned by four French Cabinet Ministers - proposes that France should tax data collection. The touted idea would see new tax bills from the French government landing on Google, Facebook, Amazon and any other web companies that store data about their French users. The report was commissioned in July by Fleur Pellerin, France's Minister for Small and Medium Enterprise, Innovation and the Digital Economy, backed by three colleagues amid government frustration about the low tax American web giants were paying in France. Web companies pay under 1 per cent of what a standard French company would pay in tax, according to figures from Le Monde. French wonks: Let's tax data like we tax pollution

The new normal in Baghdad After violence that shattered hundreds of thousands of lives and left nearly everyone with a tragic story to tell, life in Iraq has settled into a strange normality — with no discernible direction or clear future. “How do you make sense of the last ten years?” said a novelist, who is trying to do just that. A decade after the US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains in crisis, although you wouldn’t know it from visiting Baghdad. Traffic is easing its way through the maze of roadblocks and concrete barriers that had made it a nightmare. Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s detractors have been growing as he has accumulated powers. That in turn almost inevitably rekindled Shia identity politics, in a society still scarred by sectarian violence, particularly rife between 2006 and 2008. Al-Maliki’s isolation So the prime minister finds himself surprisingly isolated. Moreover the nature of the political regime remains indefinable. US sinned by omission Entangled identities

Chinese Scientists Grow False Teeth From Human Urine Over the years scientists have made false teeth from a variety of materials – from cuspids crafted out of animal bone to chompers made from wood and gold. However a group of Chinese scientists just announced that they have successfully grown “rudimentary teeth” from an extremely unlikely and slightly unsettling source: human pee. According to the research, published in Cell Regeneration Journal, the tiny tooth-like structures were grown from stem cells harvested from urine. While the scientists believe it could herald a new, albeit disturbing, age for false teeth, stem cell researchers believe they could have several hurdles to overcome. The Chinese research team, which is based at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health used urine as it contains cells that are normally passed out of the body – but in the laboratory they can be come stem cells. These cells were then mixed with organic material to form teeth. + Cell Regeneration Journal via BBC News Images © Wonderlane

20 Game-Changing Technology Trends That Will Create Both Disruption and Opportunity on a Global Level | Flash Foresights from Daniel Burrus No matter what industry you’re in, your company can’t survive without technology. And these days, even non-technical employees know that technology goes way beyond desktop computers and networks. From smart phones and tablet computers to mobile apps and cloud-based technology, there’s a plethora of technological advancements to not only keep track of, but also to profit from. Over the next five short years the following game-changing technologies will transform how we sell, market, communicate, collaborate, educate, train, innovate, and much more. Rapid Growth of Big Data. Spot Your Own Hard TrendsAre these the only game-changing technology-driven trends to be aware of? Visit for more information.

The great oil swindle Recent headlines in the US press about the coming economic boom heralded by the shale gas revolution would lead you to think we are literally swimming in oil. A spate of reports last year, in particular the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook (WEO) in November 2012, forecast that the US will outstrip Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2017, becoming, as Reuters put it, “all but self-sufficient in net terms” in energy production. According to the IEA, the projected increase in oil production from 84 mbpd (million barrels per day) in 2011 to 97 mbpd in 2035 will come “entirely from natural gas liquids and unconventional sources” — largely shale oil and gas — while conventional oil output will begin to fall from 2013. In early 2012, two US energy consultants, writing in the flagship British energy industry journal Petroleum Review, sounded the alarm. Dodgy economics of fracking Such a rapid decline has made shale gas distinctly unprofitable.

Researchers claim 3-D printers pose 'health risk' CHICAGO — Three-dimensional printers using the fused deposition molding (FDM) process could pose a health risk to operators, according to researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology in the U.S. and the National Institute of Applied Sciences in Lyon, France. Writing in the journal Atmospheric Environment, Brent Stephens, Parham Azimi, Zeineb El Orch and Tiffanie Ramos note that “heated thermoplastic extrusion and deposition … is a process that has been shown to have significant aerosol emissions in industrial environments. “Because most of these devices [consumer FDM 3-D printers] are currently sold as standalone devices without any exhaust ventilation or filtration accessories, results herein suggest caution should be used when operating in inadequately ventilated or unfiltered indoor environments.” The researchers carried out their tests at a 3-D printing bureau in Chicago, The 3D Printing Experience.

Harper Reed, Obama’s Data Guru, Gets Voters to Engage—and Provide Their Info Along the Way | 80beats What do custom-designed T-shirts and presidential campaigns have in common? Harper Reed, chief technology officer for the Obama campaign, rose to prominence because he knew the answer: They both can benefit from websites that engage users and encourage community participation—and, in the process, gather valuable data. In a profile at Mother Jones, Tim Murphy describes how such potentially powerful and jealously guarded tech strategies—Obama’s go by codenames like “Narwhal” and “Dreamcatcher”—work. Reed got his start at Threadless, a website that sells quirky T-shirts to hipsters. But as Murphy details, the site didn’t just make shirts and expect people to buy them; it was a social forum that asked for their input every step of the way: Threadless wasn’t the first company to market arty apparel to the Wicker Park set, but its genius lay in its model. Now chief technology officer of the Obama campaign, Reed has now created a grassroots organizing website called Dashboard.

Brilliant light for developing world is powered by gravity Not everyone has access to electricity all the time. And not everyone has access to chemical energy or solar energy or nuclear energy all the time. But everyone on Earth has access to gravitational energy whenever they need it. The problem has always been making gravity useful for something, but this gravity-powered light manages to do exactly that. Essentially, this light (called GravityLight) operates just like a grandfather clock: there's a weight attached to a cable, and as the weight descends, it pulls the cable through a mechanism to extract energy from gravity-induced motion. GravityLight is designed to replace kerosene lanterns throughout the developing world. It's simple: it's a box with a light on it that comes with a cable and a bag. You, of course, being not in the developing world, will have to pay a bit of a premium to make sure that the GravityLight stays cheap for everyone else who needs one for more than novelty. Indiegogo, via Engadget

The Higher Education Bubble Begins To Burst The Higher Education Bubble Begins To Burst Check out this New York Times article on the beginning of the bursting of the higher education bubble. In the 2012-2013 school year enrollment in for-profit and community colleges dropped. Now enrollment in 4 year non-profit colleges has begun dropping too. A Wall Street Journal article makes similar points. Some colleges will close. The number of kids turning 18 has begun to contract. I expect to a substantial shift toward online learning in order to save costs, speed up education, and get far greater convenience. The rise of massive open online courses (MOOCs) will let most students watch higher quality lectures than they can watch at which ever university they attend.

Plutôt que de nous focaliser sur les Big Data, si on prêtait attention aux Long Data –
Pour le mathématicien Samuel Arbesman, plus que les Big Data, nous devrions porter attention aux Long Data, aux données qui permettent d’avoir un large balayage historique. Pourquoi ? Parce qu’elles nous permettent non pas d’avoir un instantané, mais de voir les processus et interactions qui se déroulent au fil du temps. Elles permettent de comprendre comment le monde change et comment nous changeons avec lui. Bref, nous permettre de mieux appréhender notre avenir. by frv100frv100 Mar 1