Beautiful data, beautiful purpose?

As big data powers a new generation of products and services that are revolutionizing every corner of the private sector, I think it's important to ask the question: What opportunities do we have to apply the principles of Mutuality to our use of data and analytics?

In an earlier post I talked about the excellent book on data and analytics from 2009, Beautiful Data, that explored the new universe of possibilities opened up by recent advances in data collection, storage and processing technologies.

One dark note sounded by the book's co-editor, Jeff Hammerbacher, in the wake of its publication was the priority being placed on commercial uses of big data over the development of data and analysis tools for the common good. He summarized his concerns this way: "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks." Hammerbacher's response was to help found Cloudera, a data management company that would bring these tools beyond the consumer/marketing sphere to broader fields such as science, healthcare and "traditional" businesses.

Now, as we build a system of metrics and management tools as part of the Economics of Mutuality, I'd like to use the best and most powerful tools possible to support it. We can start by focusing on data related to human capital, social capital, and natural capital -- looking for those reservoirs of information that might already exist, and catalyzing new ones where they don't. Then building, testing, refining, and sharing analytical tools to visualize and understand what the data tells us.

Because as big data transforms every corner of the "traditional" economy, we want its capabilities to be built into the new Economics of Mutuality from the start.

Image source: Cloud Matters

-- Yassine El Ouarzazi

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