Author(s): Timandra Harkness
Mathematics & Science | No Category
Big data knows where you've been and who your friends are. It knows what you like and what makes you angry. It can predict what you'll buy, where you'll be the victim of crime and when you'll have a heart attack. Big data knows you better than you know yourself, or so it claims. But how well do you know big data? You've probably seen the phrase in newspaper headlines, at work in a marketing meeting, or on a fitness-tracking gadget. But can you understand it without being a Silicon Valley nerd who writes computer programs for fun? Yes. Yes, you can. Timandra Harkness writes comedy, not computer code. The only programmes she makes are on the radio. If you can read a newspaper you can read this book. Starting with the basics - what IS data? And what makes it big? - Timandra takes you on a whirlwind tour of how people are using big data today: from science to smart cities, business to politics, self-quantification to the Internet of Things. Finally, she asks the big questions about where it's taking us; is it too big for its boots, or does it think too small? Are you a data point or a human being? Will this book be full of rhetorical questions? No.
It also contains puns, asides, unlikely stories and engaging people, inspiring feats and thought-provoking dilemmas. Leaving you armed and ready to decide what you think about one of the decade's big ideas: big data.
What is Big Data, and why should you care? This book tells you everything you need to know (and plenty of stuff you don't)
Harkness has the perfect combination of wit, charm and statistical insight to crunch big data. It's the book about stats, life and big data we've all been waiting for. -- Matt Parker, Stand-up Mathematician A wonderful collection of fascinating data stories, all told in Timandra's smart and chatty style. But this book also asks the important questions. If big data brings new opportunities, just what are the implications? -- Hannah Fry, Mathematician, University College London This book is a great read - full of interesting stories and fun interviews. But it is not just another credulous tale of technological wonders - Harkness is suitably sceptical of the hype about data analytics, and serious about the challenges is brings. -- David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, University of Cambridge, and author of Sex by Numbers
Timandra Harkness is a writer, comedian and broadcaster, who has been performing on scientific, mathematical and statistical topics since the latter days of the 20th Century. She is a regular on BBC Radio, resident reporter on social psychology series The Human Zoo as well as writing and presenting documentaries including BBC Radio 4's Data, Data Everywhere and FutureProofing series. In 2010 she co-wrote and performed Your Days Are Numbered: The Maths of Death, with stand-up mathematician Matt Parker, which was a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Fringe before touring the rest of the UK and Australia. Science comedy since then includes solo show Brainsex, cabarets and gameshows. She is currently writing a new comedy show about Big Data. @TimandraHarknes/ timandraharkness.com
Introduction: What is it? Where did it come from? 1: What Is Data? And what makes it big? 2: Death and Taxes. And Babies. 3: Thinking Machines What Has Big Data Done For Us? 4: Big Business 5: Big Science 6: Big Society 7: Data Driven Democracy Big Ideas? 8: Big Brother 9: Who Do We Think You Are? 10: Are You A Data Point Or A Human Being? Appendix - things you can do to keep your data private Acknowledgements