Linked to my last post on what I wrote recently for SciDev.net on Big Data, I recently gave a public lecture at the International Security Network, which is part of Zurich’s world renowned ETH University, on Big Data, ICTs and New Media in Times of Crisis.
Far more memorable, for me, than the lecture itself was my interaction with Peter Faber, Head of ISN Strategy and Operations. Peter’s introduction to the lecture, as well as his moderation of the Q&A session were profoundly useful in fleshing out aspects of Big Data often under valued. These included,
- How Big Data and the new media that disseminates it impact the legitimacy of states and international institutions? And furthermore, are these political entities agile enough to respond to the anti-institutional sentiments that have spread as a result of new media and the information it shares?
- Whether Big Data does provide added value for policymakers, particularly given its ability to lead them astray on the conclusions they draw.
- The impact this aggregated form of data is having on institutional transparency and accountability, and the extent to which these norms are being incorporated into the operational DNA of government agencies.