Data – The New Stake Of The Web

> decryption of today’s issues about information management

“Knowledge is power”, and today we can say knowledge is about handling data. My recent visit at the i-Expo 2013 got me to realize the Web might be the most important source of data the humankind ever created ! Indeed this “raw material” is more abundant than ever : with the multiplication of connected devices, the mass of data users leave behind them has literally exploded. And today the issue is about being able to turn this huge amount of information into value.

Here I’ll be defining the main concepts of this “culture of data” in order to understand the stakes of the question : Big Data, Data Visualization, Open Data and Semantic Web.

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BIG DATA

The term Big Data is a catch-phrase used to describe a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large that it’s difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis, and visualization. Big data is high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.

I’ve came upon an explicit infographic (see pic below) that gives out the 4 main steps of Big Data operating along with example of what for it can used :

  • Gather info
  • Organize data
  • Generate actionable insights
  • Deliver better products and services

big data infographic

Big data sizes are a constantly moving target, as of 2012 ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes (1 PB = 1000 terabytes) of data in a single data set.

Examples of Big Data use include science and research, military surveillance, forecasting drive times for new home buyers, medical records, large scale e-commerce, and so on…

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DATA VISUALIZATION

“A picture is worth a thousand words” : directly linked to the previous point, Data Visualization is the study of the visual representation of data, which goal is to communicate information clearly and effectively through graphical means.

These can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. Therefore it is crucial to identify the appropriate visualization for the data set and infographic by taking into consideration graphical features such as position, size, shape, and color. To convey ideas effectively, both aesthetic form and functionality need to go hand in hand, providing insights into a rather sparse and complex data set by communicating its key-aspects in a more intuitive way. Yet designers often fail to achieve a balance between form and function, creating gorgeous data visualizations which fail to serve their main purpose – to communicate information

I can tell I’ve seen the amazing rising of infographics, in webmarketing as well as in all other types of fields, and by chance I found a nice one to explain the purpose of Data Visualization :

dataviz

Data Visualization can obviously be interactive, making data even easier to play with – here are 2 very nice examples of my selection :

www.evolutionoftheweb.com <
internet-map.net <

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OPEN DATA

“Open data” expresses the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. This particularly concerns governments and other state structures with the notion of transparency toward populations : what is done with the money from your taxes ? or what are the districts that are safer / have the best schools, etc… ?

opendata

Access to, or re-use of, the data is controlled by organisations, both public and private. Problems often arise because these are commercially valuable or can be aggregated into works of value. Advocates of open data argue that these restrictions are against the communal good and that these data should be made available without restriction or fee. From an economic point of view, the potential is also very important. As presented, the open data should be a gold mine for the economy, facilitating and reducing the cost of research and innovation.

However, the open data raises serious questions regarding the protection of personal data, intellectual property and national security. Without clear and legislative framework shared by all organizations, these principles may conflict with the policy of open data, which can fuel mistrust of governments or information providers.

In short, open data has countless possibilities, whether democratic or economic. Some areas such as the environment, health and the economy related to the Internet have a lot to gain from open data, as it can lead to substantial gains in terms of growth and employment.

> www.data.gouv.fr <
> www.data.gov <

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SEMANTIC WEB

The Semantic Web is a collaborative movement led by the international standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), that aims at converting the current web dominated by unstructured and semi-structured documents into a “web of data” by encouraging the inclusion of semantic content in web pages. That is, Semantic Web is a group of methods and technologies to allow machines to understand the meaning – or “semantics” – of information on the World Wide Web.

W3C Semantic Web

The main purpose of the Semantic Web is driving the evolution of the current Web by enabling users to find, share, and combine information more easily. We know that some of the challenges for the actual Web include vastness, vagueness, uncertainty, inconsistency, and deceit. Automated reasoning systems will have to deal with all of these issues in order to deliver on the promise of the Semantic Web.

To do so, Semantic Web is a group of methods and technologies to allow machines to understand the meaning – or “semantics” – of information on the Web : it provides metadata readable by software, which enable automated agents to perform tasks automatically and locate information on behalf of the user. This involves developing new standards for identifying and sharing information online.

The best example I can give you to truly understand the notion of semantic web is to show you the video introducing Google Knowledge Graph :

Another Semantic Web solution is the development of rich snippets – detailed information intended to help users with specific queries. For example, the snippet for a restaurant might show the average review and price range; the snippet for a recipe page might show the total preparation time, a photo, and the recipe’s review rating; and the snippet for a music album could list songs along with a link to play each song. These rich snippets help users recognize when your site is relevant to their search, and may result in more clicks to your pages.

rich snippets

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That’s it for now – I hope my explanations where clear enough, and interesting too ! Now I’m really aware that data is both the purpose and the issue of the Web we know – so I decided to remove the copyright mention on my blog to replace it by the “Open Knowledge” logo, as my blog is here to share what I learn and do in webmarketing !

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