Posthumans, Big Data and New Interfaces

Moderated by: Alistair Croll
Location: Mission City Ballroom
Please note: This and all other keynotes will be live streamed and recorded.
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Strata looks at three things: Big, open data; ubiquitous computing and the democratization of IT; and new interfaces that make complex, multidimensional data accessible and usable.

Put those three things together, and you’ve created an entirely new way of thinking. No longer do we learn by rote; we phone a friend. Compelling infographics have taken the place of political discourse. And any device that can send an SMS is tied to the most powerful computers in the world.

How will this change us? Will it make us shallow and distracted, as Nicholas Carr suggests? Will it prepare us for a truly connected society, where antiquated ideas like broadcast marketing and representative democracies give way to one-to-one buying and direct voting?

The change is slow, but inexorable. A few short years ago, we were warned not to put our real names on the Web. Today, every site has a share button, and we freely track our own activities for all to see. Each of those acts leaves a crumb of data; take away our smartphones, and we feel like we’ve had a digital stroke, leaving us without faculties we otherwise take for granted.

It’s maybe an understatement to say that connected access to the sum of all knowledge changes us. It’ll shape how we work and play. It’ll change how we learn. It may even alter who—and what—we love.

In this panel discussion, we’ll look beyond the bytes and algorithms to think about humanity awash in a sea of information.

Photo of Alistair Croll

Alistair Croll

Solve For Interesting

Alistair Croll is an entrepreneur with a background in web performance, analytics, cloud computing, and business strategy. In 2001, he cofounded Coradiant (acquired by BMC in 2011) and has since helped launch Rednod, CloudOps, Bitcurrent, Year One Labs, and several other early-stage companies. He works with startups on business acceleration and advises a number of larger companies on innovation and technology. A sought-after public speaker on data-driven innovation and the impact of technology on society, Alistair has founded and run a variety of conferences, including Cloud Connect, Bitnorth, and the International Startup Festival, and is the chair of O’Reilly’s Strata Data Conference. He has written several books on technology and business, including the best-selling Lean Analytics. Alistair tries to mitigate his chronic ADD by writing about far too many things at Solve For Interesting.

Photo of Toby Segaran

Toby Segaran


Toby Segaran is the author of the O’Reilly titles, “Programming
Collective Intelligence” and “Programming the Semantic Web” and a
contributing editor of “Beautiful Data” . He frequently speaks on the
subjects of machine learning, collective intelligence and freedom of
data at conferences worldwide.

Toby previous worked as a Senior Data Scientist at Metaweb before it
was acquired by Google in 2010. He now works on large-scale data
reconciliation problems at Google. Prior to Metaweb he founded
Incellico, a biotechnology software company which was acquired in

Toby holds a B.Sc in Computer Science from MIT and is deemed a “Person
of Exceptional Ability” by the USCIS. He loves applying data-analysis
algorithms to everything ranging from pharmaceutical trials to online
dating to financial risk models.

Photo of Amber Case

Amber Case

MIT Media Lab

Amber Case studies the interaction between humans and computers and how our relationship with information is changing the way cultures think, act, and understand their worlds. She is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and a visiting researcher at the MIT Center for Civic Media. Previously, she was the cofounder and former CEO of location-based software company Geoloqi (acquired by Esri in 2012). Amber is the author of Calm Technology, Design for the Next Generation of Devices. She spoke about the future of the interface for SXSW 2012’s keynote address, and her TED talk, “We are all cyborgs now,” has been viewed over a million times. Named one of National Geographic’s “emerging explorers,” she’s also been listed among Inc. magazine’s “30 under 30” and featured among Fast Company’s “most influential women in technology.” You can follow her on Twitter @caseorganic and learn more at and Medium.

Photo of Bradford Cross

Bradford Cross


Bradford has been doing applied research since 2001. His interests are in Maths, Statistics, Computer Science, Learning Theory, Network Theory, Information Retrieval, Natural Language Processing, and engineering at scale.

Most recently, Bradford is co-founder and head of research for FlightCaster, where is responsible for the statistical learning and supporting architecture that power Flightcaster’s predictive algorithms.

Prior to Flightcaster, Bradford spent 2 years at ThoughtWorks.

Bradford began his research work in the hedge fund business, where he developed statistical trading strategies and the underlying software infrastructure. During this time he founded a few small trading partnerships and worked with O’Higgins Asset Management. In the process of building trading systems, he collaborated with SmartQuant on a project that was subsequently sold to QuantHouse and re-branded as their suite of research tools for algorithmic trading strategy development.

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Anuj Agarwal
02/03/2011 2:01am PST

Good stuff! I know that the consequences of collecting so much data about individuals has yet to play out but i think this will ultimately do us much more good than harm.

Its easy to see that when we’re able to collect a lot more real time data about our body and present it in meaningful ways to the individual, it will greatly improve health.

Imagine doing the same for the individual’s activities.

Picture of Duncan Ross
Duncan Ross
02/03/2011 1:20am PST

Started very well, but faded out. Perhaps more rehearsal needed! Toby made some great comments though…


  • Thomson Reuters
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  • Amazon Mechanical Turk
  • Amazon Web Services
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  • Splunk
  • Urban Mapping
  • Wolfram|Alpha
  • Esri
  • ParAccel
  • Tableau Software

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