Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

When Does a Data Stream Become a Tsunami?

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

When Does a Data Stream Become a Tsunami?

Article excerpt

Could society be placing too much reliance on the quantity of information at its disposal when it should be equally focused on its accuracy?

That is one of the key questions that will be asked by Harvey Goldstein, professor of social statistics at the University of Bristol, in a debate that will explore the opportunities and challenges posed to social scientists, policymakers and the public by ever-expanding data streams.

The Big Data event at the British Academy, due to take place on 5 November, will assemble academic researchers and statisticians to discuss how best to use the increasingly accessible sets of public data on anything from education to road safety.

Other than Professor Goldstein, panel members for the event - for which Times Higher Education is media partner - are Paul Boyle, chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, Paul Woobey, director of the strategy and standards directorate at the Office for National Statistics, and Farida Vis, research fellow in the social sciences at the University of Sheffield.

The British Academy showed its commitment to the importance of open data when, in 2011, it launched "a four-year programme to support quantitative skills in the humanities and social sciences", stating that "people need to have the tools to interpret and critique the increasing amount of data now available". …

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