Friday, March 15, 2013

Snapshot of the World

Rick Smolan, photographer for National Geographic and Time magazine and head of  Against All Odds,  started a project to capture a ‘snapshot’ of the world in regards to big data and the quantified self movement.

“Imagine the whole human race has been looking through one eye, until 18 months ago, and all of a sudden we opened up a second eye.”

The project consists of a series of events with 100 photographers. They are trying to send their photographers to really interesting areas of the world. He touches on how everyone is connected through their devices, which in turn creates an exhaust of data from everyone.  Thus, people have now become sensors.

Smolan goes through examples of how big data has impacted our lives, from notifying people of earthquakes prior to it actually happen to finding solutions for preventing crimes by analyzing where criminals originate from.

“The Human Face of Big Data” project invites millions of people around to participate on a specific date by doing certain things on their phones. These tasks include: recording certain sounds, taking pictures, answering questions, etc. This data will be collected and analyzed to show journalists and others invited at the New York Stock Exchange to show what they’re learning in real-time about the planet. 

My favorite aspect about the project is the connection of these concepts to children. They want to assign certain projects to students, deputizing them, and have them collect their own data in their communities. This will allow them to compare how their communities are with others.
Rick Smolan seems to be very excited and ambitious on the applications of big data, which the project shows. I’m looking forward to seeing how this impacts others, and it will inspire others to do the same.

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  2. I looked into an interview with Rick Smolan myself and he seems like an interesting guy. The more I have read and learned about big data, I am beginning to agree with his belief that the effect that Big Data and real time information will have on the world will be larger than the Internet. That's saying a lot! Just like having two eyes instead of one, we are now able to take in and understand so much more information than ever before with big data analytics. We have all become used to having information and media at our fingertips. I would bet to say that everyone takes at least one picture a day on average, whether it is on a camera or a cell phone. Because phones can be equipped with GPS technology to record where the picture was taken, it is a great idea that this technology is being used to show the happenings of people around the world. What better insight to everyday life is there than pictures from the perspectives of all types of people everywhere?

    Social media tools, such as Twitter and Instagram are widely used to capture the everyday lives of all kinds of people. From what I understand, Smolan’s “The Human Face of Big Data” is just a more structured way to harness the same kind of information; we are all part of the big data world. We might be the photographer, we might be the main focus of a picture, or we might happen to be in the background of a shot. If pictures are worth a thousand words, think about how much information is out there at this day and age.