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SXSW Goes Gaga for Big Data

by Shyamali Ghosh

This week Austin Texas again plays host to the South By Southwest Interactive conference, which continues to get bigger and bigger with an extremely diverse line-up of sessions. This year, though, “big data” is clearly the conference meme.

On Saturday, Data Visualization and the Future of Research was a high point. Although the focus was decidedly academic, it was a great reminder that even in the B2B sector, we should strive to give our customers options when in comes to processing and interpreting information.

Sunday was “data day.” The clever gentlemen at www.splunk.com discussed

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the vast amount of consumer data generated every day and how to harness, sort, and format these data

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to get at valuable information during Big Data for Everyman: Help Liberate the Data Serf. Describing the process of watching data accumulate as people self-report what they are doing, Splunk’s Michael Wilde said, “Real-time is the new historical,” meaning that updating in real time gives us the possibility of seeing trends as they occur, not afterwards.

Data Is the New Oil: Wealth and Wars on the Web sounded enticing and drew many attendees. During the question and answer portion of the session it was clear that many in the room had a lot of potentially interesting and useful data, but little idea of how to transform it into something useful…like oil. Everyone knows how to use oil. Highly specific data is more like radium, cerium, or holmium, though: they are rare and/or unique sets of information looking for highly specific users so perhaps this session set expectations a bit high.

The Beautiful Data? panel gave a practical talk on currently available data visualization programs, predictions for the future of visualization, and the importance of helping customers understand and interpret the data we offer them.

More on SXSW Monday and Tuesday sessions in the next post…

posted by Shyamali Ghosh on March 13, 2012

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