playlist

Making sense of too much data

It's the age of Big Data. But what, exactly, do we do with all this information? These talks explore practical, ethical — and spectacularly visual — ways to understand near-infinite data.

  1. 19:50
    Hans Rosling The best stats you've ever seen

    You've never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called "developing world."

  2. 14:08
    Jean-Baptiste Michel + Erez Lieberman Aiden What we learned from 5 million books

    Have you played with Google Labs' Ngram Viewer? It's an addicting tool that lets you search for words and ideas in a database of 5 million books from across centuries. Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel show us how it works, and a few of the surprising things we can learn from 500 billion words.

  3. 17:27
    Amy Webb How I hacked online dating

    Amy Webb was having no luck with online dating. The dates she liked didn't write her back, and her own profile attracted crickets (and worse). So, as any fan of data would do: she started making a spreadsheet. Hear the story of how she went on to hack her online dating life — with frustrating, funny and life-changing results.

  4. 19:52
    Deb Roy The birth of a word

    MIT researcher Deb Roy wanted to understand how his infant son learned language — so he wired up his house with videocameras to catch every moment (with exceptions) of his son's life, then parsed 90,000 hours of home video to watch "gaaaa" slowly turn into "water." Astonishing, data-rich research with deep implications for how we learn.

  5. 17:56
    David McCandless The beauty of data visualization

    David McCandless turns complex data sets like worldwide military spending, media buzz, Facebook status updates and more into beautiful yet simple diagrams. He proposes information design as the tool we use to navigate today's information glut, finding unique patterns and connections that may just change the way we see the world.

  6. 12:12
    Shyam Sankar The rise of human-computer cooperation

    Brute computing force alone can’t solve the world’s problems. Data mining innovator Shyam Sankar explains why solving big problems (like catching terrorists or identifying huge hidden trends) is not a question of finding the right algorithm, but rather the right symbiotic relationship between computation and human creativity.

  7. 12:41
    Anne Milgram Why smart statistics are the key to fighting crime

    When she became the attorney general of New Jersey in 2007, Anne Milgram quickly discovered a few startling facts: not only did her team not really know who they were putting in jail, but they had no way of understanding if their decisions were actually making the public safer. And so began her ongoing, inspirational quest to bring data analytics and statistical analysis to the US criminal justice system.

  8. 18:18
    Aaron Koblin Visualizing ourselves ... with crowd-sourced data

    Artist Aaron Koblin takes vast amounts of data — and at times vast numbers of people — and weaves them into stunning visualizations. From elegant lines tracing airline flights to landscapes of cell phone data, from a Johnny Cash video assembled from crowd-sourced drawings to the "Wilderness Downtown" video that customizes for the user, his works brilliantly explore how modern technology can make us more human.

  9. 9:16
    Nate Silver Does racism affect how you vote?

    Nate Silver has answers to controversial questions about race in politics: Did Obama's race hurt his votes in some places? Stats and myths collide in this fascinating talk that ends with a remarkable insight on how town planning can promote tolerance.

  10. 16:54
    Jamie Heywood The big idea my brother inspired

    When Jamie Heywood's brother was diagnosed with ALS, he devoted his life to fighting the disease as well. The Heywood brothers built an ingenious website where people share and track data on their illnesses — and they discovered that the collective data had enormous power to comfort, explain and predict.

  11. 11:14
    Chris Jordan Turning powerful stats into art

    Artist Chris Jordan shows us an arresting view of what Western culture looks like. His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics — like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day.

  12. 4:19
    Nathalie Miebach Art made of storms

    Artist Nathalie Miebach takes weather data from massive storms and turns it into complex sculptures that embody the forces of nature and time. These sculptures then become musical scores for a string quartet to play.

  13. 9:55
    Jennifer Golbeck The curly fry conundrum: Why social media “likes” say more than you might think

    Do you like curly fries? Have you Liked them on Facebook? Watch this talk to find out the surprising things Facebook (and others) can guess about you from your random Likes and Shares. Computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck explains how this came about, how some applications of the technology are not so cute — and why she thinks we should return the control of information to its rightful owners.

  14. 16:12
    Tricia Wang The human insights missing from big data

    Why do so many companies make bad decisions, even with access to unprecedented amounts of data? With stories from Nokia to Netflix to the oracles of ancient Greece, Tricia Wang demystifies big data and identifies its pitfalls, suggesting that we focus instead on "thick data" — precious, unquantifiable insights from actual people — to make the right business decisions and thrive in the unknown.