What’s the Big Deal about Big Data? Ziyad Marar on the Opportunities

By Michael Todd, Community Manager, MethodSpace


Ziyad Marar

It’s been said that data is to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th. So begins Ziyad Marar, executive vice president of SAGE Publishing, as he outlines the importance of the nexus between big data and social science and introduces Gary King at a May event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Because it has become so humdrum, Marar continues, big data threatens to fade into the backdrop without sufficient thought to its importance or applications.

King, the director of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, makes no bones about ubiquity or the utility of the term “big data.” He says the term helps the public “get” the revolution in commoditized data and the computational efforts involved in extracting value from that data. “My mom,” says the political scientist and Albert J Weatherhead III University Professor, “now thinks she understands what I do.”

In a series of 10 videos from that event, titled “The big deal about big data,” King hammers home two themes: First, it’s not the data itself that’s revolutionary, but the analysis of it. “The value is not the data,” he says. “It’s not the big, it’s the analytics.” And second, the data revolution’s outputs are genuinely, well, revolutionary, as his examples demonstrate.

The first of those videos, featuring Marar’s introduction, appears below.

Noting the interest that business and physical scientists have in dig data, Marar suggests that with social science it’s a bit of a different story:  while there’s a lot of uptake by social scientists, there is also a lot of concern. The purpose of the King lecture, which SAGE sponsored, was to help “push the story of data-intensive social science a step along.”

Videos in the series:

  1. Ziyad Marar On The Opportunities That Big Data Provides Social Scientists
  2. What Makes Big Data Valuable?
  3. Examples: Exciting Data That Is Useless Without Analytics
  4. Example: Social Scientists Determine Cause Of Death At A Distance
  5. Example: Analysis Rids Social Security Forecasts Of Bias
  6. Example: New Data Methods Combat Gerrymandering
  7. Example: Big Data Much Better Than People At Determining Keywords
  8. Example: Watching Chinese Citizens Get Around Censorship
  9. Example: Learning The Real Reason For Chinese Censorship
  10. The Spectacular Success Of Quantitative Social Science
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