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How Can Thick Data Improve the Way We Use Big Data?

Troy Sadkowsky - Friday, June 30, 2017

 

April 16, 2017

TedTalk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaOUJa9fjXU

Medium: https://medium.com/ethnography-matters/why-big-data-needs-thick-data-b4b3e75e3d7

Big data can help us solve problems, optimize services, predict the future and learn more about ourselves and human behavior. But when big data cannot answer a question, or makes an incorrect prediction, what if it is because data is not telling us the whole story?

In a Ted Talk and an article on Medium, Tricia Wang, a technology ethnographer, implores us to realize that, even in the age of data-driven decision making, big data can have some serious blind spots, and often suffers from a loss of context through valuable variables and trends that defy quantification.

Insights on contained systems, such as electricity grids or delivery logistics, have established big data’s reputation for success. Although this reputation has attracted investment from a huge array of companies, Wang claims, 73% of big data projects are not profitable, because big data projects frequently do not produce the insights that they seem to promise. For dynamic systems, especially those that depend on human emotions, behavior, and how people are impacted and interact with their environment, certain variables are difficult to measure and model.

She describes how opportunities can be gained and losses diminished by using big data in conjugation with “thick data”, observations that use qualitative methods to understand human emotions, behaviors and interactions with context. For example, the realization by ethnographer Graham McCracken that Netflix users actually enjoy binge-watching, led Netflix to redesign their user experience, improve their business and transform the way we consume media. Through qualitative research and collecting stories about how users interact with their product, Netflix was able to go to their data science team, validate these findings, and act on this competitive insight.

Wang summarizes that while “Thick Data loses scale…Big Data loses resolution.” While big data analytics can have a huge sample size, recognize large-scale patterns, and benefit from the strengths of machine learning, thick data uses small samples sizes, but understands subjects at a much greater depth, and benefits from aspects of human intelligence and pattern recognition that still elude computer programs. As data scientists, the more we understand the limitations of our methods and pay attention to thick data, the more we can recognize the factors and variables our data is missing. With a more holistic perspective, data analysis is better poised to uncover more truthful and powerful insights.

 

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How Can Thick Data Improve the Way We Use Big Data?

Troy Sadkowsky - Friday, June 30, 2017

 

April 16, 2017

TedTalk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaOUJa9fjXU

Medium: https://medium.com/ethnography-matters/why-big-data-needs-thick-data-b4b3e75e3d7

Big data can help us solve problems, optimize services, predict the future and learn more about ourselves and human behavior. But when big data cannot answer a question, or makes an incorrect prediction, what if it is because data is not telling us the whole story?

In a Ted Talk and an article on Medium, Tricia Wang, a technology ethnographer, implores us to realize that, even in the age of data-driven decision making, big data can have some serious blind spots, and often suffers from a loss of context through valuable variables and trends that defy quantification.

Insights on contained systems, such as electricity grids or delivery logistics, have established big data’s reputation for success. Although this reputation has attracted investment from a huge array of companies, Wang claims, 73% of big data projects are not profitable, because big data projects frequently do not produce the insights that they seem to promise. For dynamic systems, especially those that depend on human emotions, behavior, and how people are impacted and interact with their environment, certain variables are difficult to measure and model.

She describes how opportunities can be gained and losses diminished by using big data in conjugation with “thick data”, observations that use qualitative methods to understand human emotions, behaviors and interactions with context. For example, the realization by ethnographer Graham McCracken that Netflix users actually enjoy binge-watching, led Netflix to redesign their user experience, improve their business and transform the way we consume media. Through qualitative research and collecting stories about how users interact with their product, Netflix was able to go to their data science team, validate these findings, and act on this competitive insight.

Wang summarizes that while “Thick Data loses scale…Big Data loses resolution.” While big data analytics can have a huge sample size, recognize large-scale patterns, and benefit from the strengths of machine learning, thick data uses small samples sizes, but understands subjects at a much greater depth, and benefits from aspects of human intelligence and pattern recognition that still elude computer programs. As data scientists, the more we understand the limitations of our methods and pay attention to thick data, the more we can recognize the factors and variables our data is missing. With a more holistic perspective, data analysis is better poised to uncover more truthful and powerful insights.

 

Comments
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treatment center commented on 13-Jun-2018 11:22 PM
Hey there! This is my first comkent here so I just wanted to
givve a quiuck shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your posts.
Can youu suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that ggo over
the same subjects? Thanks for your time!
drug and alcohol treatment centers commented on 14-Jun-2018 12:17 AM
When I initially left a comment I appar to have clikcked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now
on every time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the
exact same comment. Is there a way you can remve me from that service?
Many thanks!
Betty ford rehab commented on 14-Jun-2018 12:21 AM
Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other
websites? I have a blog centered on the same ideas you discuss and would love too have yyou share some stories/information. I know my visiktors would
enjoy your work. If you're even remotely interested, feel free to send me aan e-mail.
Robux Codes commented on 14-Jun-2018 12:34 AM
Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog.
Is it tough to set up your own blog? I'm not very techincal but I
can figure things out pretty fast. I'm thinking about making my own but I'm not
sure where to begin. Do you have any points or suggestions?
Thank you
judi Poker commented on 14-Jun-2018 01:17 AM
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I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time andd waas
hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.
Please let mme know if you run iinto anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and I look
forward to youjr new updates.
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your bet after each loss until you win a hand though do be careful as being
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adding together the two previous stakes to give
you just how much your next bet. Although it works
well with some, no erase the belief that purchasing them
is surely an unsound idea. The real casino advantage are these claims,
when the first couple of card total is 13, it is NOT a draw; you will lose your bet.
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drug addicted Person commented on 14-Jun-2018 03:56 PM
My coder is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
I have apways disliked the idea becaue of the expenses.

But he's tryiong nonje the less. I've been using WordPress on numerous websites for about a year and
amm concerned about switching to another platform. I have heard very good things about
blogengine.net. Is there a way I can import all my worpress content into it?
Anny hel would be greatly appreciated!
Are Bunk Beds Easy To Put connected? - Blogs commented on 14-Jun-2018 03:59 PM
Does your blog have a contact page? I'm having trouble locating it but, I'd like to shoot you an email.

I've got some creative ideas for your blog you
might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and
I look forward to seeing it improve over time. https://big.space/ua/forum/entry.php?319455-Are-Bunk-Beds-Easy-To-Put-connected
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guys I've added youu guys to my personal blogroll.
http://studyo81.org/ commented on 14-Jun-2018 05:40 PM
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Post a Comment




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Trackback Link
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