The traditional data warehouse of the 1990s was quaintly called the “single source of truth.” Joe Hellerstein explains why today we take a far more relativistic view: the meaning of data depends on the context in which it is used. As a political example, note that a single raw dataset of social media posts can be used to target fundraising appeals, screen potential protesters at rallies, or guide policy statements: each application takes a very different view of the citizen and their recorded properties and behavior. New technologies like end-user data wrangling make this "data relativism” increasingly accessible to a variety of people with different incentives and viewpoints. Joe explores the significant new technology challenge this relativism raises: how can software services help us capture the many contexts and uses of data in an organization, and what could we do with that nuanced, multifaceted knowledge?
Joseph M. Hellerstein is the Jim Gray Chair of Computer Science at UC Berkeley and cofounder and CSO at Trifacta. Joe’s work focuses on data-centric systems and the way they drive computing. He is an ACM fellow, an Alfred P. Sloan fellow, and the recipient of three ACM-SIGMOD Test of Time awards for his research. He has been listed by Fortune among the 50 smartest people in technology, and MIT Technology Review included his work on their TR10 list of the 10 technologies most likely to change our world.
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