Industry Leaders Envision Social Data's Future

Top Minds in Social Discuss Standards and Ethics at Boston’s Big Boulder Initiative

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(image courtesy of BBI Blog)

Social data can be categorized and compartmentalized in every which way. Each organization that participates in social data collection leaves their imprint on the results they produce. There isn’t a way to avoid this nuance and difference from existing, as each social analysis company builds their own algorithms and technologies that will sort and code data that is received in the most useful way they can.
But what’s the cost of analyzing social data? Many not-for-profit businesses and universities are unable to take advantage of the vast amounts of social data that exists in the world to shape and inform their research. How can we, as the pioneers of innovation in social data analytics, find a new way to share our knowledge with academia and public sector researchers while maintaining profitability?
Chris Speaking BBI

“There’s a lot we can do to help people take advantage of social data. But we can’t do it alone.”–Chris Bingham Click To Tweet

This was one of the many questions shared between the analysts and executives that joined the Big Boulder Initiative yesterday in Fidelity in Boston’s innovation district. In a presentation to the group, Crimson Hexagon’s CTO Chris Bingham discussed the importance of sharing our wealth of data knowledge to support social, health, and political research. Chris highlighted work already being done, on censorship in China and anti-American opinion in the Arab world, and called for the social data industry to do more to support and publicize this kind of groundbreaking work.


My first Big Boulder event left me feeling inspired and encouraged by the depth and breadth of intelligence of all the minds looking at and working on these issues. In the interactive sessions that followed the presentations, each attendee contributed thought-provoking discussion on how to define and promote social data ethics, and we collectively worked to surface the most pressing issues in social data access today.
Our brainstorming workshop asked each participant to explain an experience or media event that could draw upon ethically questionable behavior in social analysis. Digging into each scenario, we categorized what social ethics issues need to be addressed today and what are some of the easiest fixes we can make as ethically-conscious social data providers and technology companies.
The conversations continue. The Big Boulder Initiative intends to continue to host meetings of social data’s brightest minds to define and accomplish common goals. This approach feels intrinsically right. It makes you want to show up, collaborate, and to keep working and empowering others to learn in order to improve the state of social data availability and analysis. The inspiration from Boston will carry participants through to the conference in Boulder this June.

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