What We Are Reading

Enjoy these articles, posts, and ideas from around the web.

Articles & Posts
Eight (No Nine!) Problems With Big Data by Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis. This is a nice short piece about what “Big Data” can and cannot do. Definitely a great reference to have on hand when you’re exploring your own data, or the data of others.

Wearables Versus There-ables by Naveen Selvadurai. I always enjoy reading what Naveen is thinking about in the personal technology space. He always does a great job of explaining his rationale and this piece is no different. Are we heading towards commodity sensors and more powerful stationary sensing systems? It’s an interesting idea.

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Dates in Excel by Kara Woo. Time and time again time/date formats show themselves to be the bane of every developer working with timestamped data. If you’re working in Excel with date dependent data this is a must read.

To quote John Machin, “In reality, there are no such things [as dates in Excel spreadsheets]. What you have are floating point numbers and pious hope.”

Sensor-Embedded Teeth for Oral Activity Recognition by Cheng-Yuan, Yen-Chang Chen, Wei-Ju Chen, Polly Huang and Hao-hua Chu. It turns out that every mouth movement you make (chewing, speaking, coughing, etc.) causes you teeth to move in different patterns. These researchers developed a small accelerometer-based sensor in an artificial tooth and were able to accurately capture different oral behaviors. A peak into our future?

Big Data and Its Exclusions by Jonas Lerman. Another “Big Data” themed essay in this weeks’ list. However this essay takes on something we’ve been hearing about more and more lately. If data is part of our future for determining public policy are there people that are missing in our datasets?

[...] big data has the potential to solidify existing inequalities and stratifications and to create new ones. It could restructure societies so that the only people who matter—quite literally the only ones who count—are those who regularly contribute to the right data flows.

How I Hacked My Best Friend’s Genome – And Could Hack Yours Too by Sharen Moelem. First, I don’t think “hack” is the right term here. I would prefer the title, “How I acquired my friend’s genetic information and had it tested.” Regardless, this short piece makes the case for understanding the legal protections, and lack thereof, of personal genetic testing.

Show&Tell
The Change My Son Brought, Seen Through Personal Data by Nathan Yau. We’re obviously big fans of Nathan and his work at Flowing Data. This great post illustrates a few of the insights Nathan gathered about how his life has changed since his son was born.

The Qualified Self: Going Beyond Quantification by Eric Boem and Jarrett Webb. No matter what adjective you prefer use to describe “the self” this article is a great example of what we see in show&tell talks at QS meetups around the world. The authors describe how they started to understand their sleep by combining many different data sets.

 

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