July 20–24, 2015
Portland, OR

Hacktivism: Using Big Data for Social Change

Moderated by: Olivia Deng
7:00pm–8:00pm Monday, 07/20/2015
BoF, E145/146
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 1 rating)

In recent years, policymakers have become increasingly interested in big data, joining researchers, companies, and innovators in their interest. Researchers tout its promise, companies marvel at its applications, and innovators scurry to service big data users. Moving forward, an area that needs to be addressed is how to orient the data to inform better decision making, notably in situations that involve the people the decisions directly impact.
Strides have been taken by cities, community organizations, nonprofits, and startups to collect data and ensure data transparency. But how can policymakers ensure that the data is useful to residents? How can data be used for social good?
Through my experience working in three funded research projects at institutions of higher education (Drexel University and Boston University), it has become apparent that a) in depth needs analysis, b) data visualization, and c) identifying social media influencers and thought leaders is integral to making data actionable.
Using TCAT, an open-source software based at Boston University, my professor and I were able to collect tweets off the stream API. We used the open visualization platform Gephi to produce interactive graphs that identified influential users and user communities. Our analysis has helped clients, which ranged from law firms to news organizations, optimize lead generation. Can such methods be applied to further social progress? This session would appeal most to activists, community leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, analysts, and big data enthusiasts.
Main discussion points include a) how to make big data intelligent data, b) best data visualization methods, and c) making decisions with big data, especially when there are many conflicting interests that stem from different population groups.