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Popular Science runs 'big data' special issue

Image courtesy Popular Science.

This month, American science magazine Popular Science has a special issue "Data is Power" looking at the transformative effects of the data deluge on our lives and how we got there. For those who have been following the ideas of big data and big computing for a while, there's nothing really new - though you may pick up the odd idea here or here. But for those who are not immersed in the concept, the issue does a solid overview and reflects well on what we have learnt.

It takes a close-up look at how this data could change society and the way we live our lives - with an in-depth look at Santa Cruz's predictive-policing trial, which uses an algorithm to find crime 'hot spots' in the city, including the time and what time of crime is likely to occur. The algorithm uses constantly updated burglary data.

There is even an article by James Gleick - author of the bestselling Chaos: Making a New Science. He has adapted his essay The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood for the special issue, and it's a good reflection on how far we've come in terms of handling information. He begins back at the telegram, which, he argues, first severed the attachment of 'information' from the physical object (such as paper) on which it is carried.

The online version of the special issue can be read here.

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