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5 Ted Talks To Watch If You Want To Understand Big Data

As a Creative Director and a Mechatronics Engineering student, I am a compulsive researcher. There is so much to learn about new technologies and data.


I love exploring all kinds of interesting and often contrasting perspectives about the impact that technology has in our everyday lives. But I am most intrigued about the impact of DATA.

Never in the history of humankind were we able to create, distribute and store information at the rate we do it today… And every passing second, we break this record. As Steve Lohr in the book Data-ism calls it: "Data is the currency of the future. Welcome to the era of Data-Capitalism."

Giving that big data promises to transform every field and every discipline in the next 20 years or less, I can’t help but wonder, do we know what this means? are we ready for this paradigm shift? If you ever find yourself asking the same question, these 5 videos may help you get closer to the answer.

1. What Do We Do With All This Data?

In this delightfully candid Ted Talk about the impact of Big Data in our lives, Susan Etlinger, starts by contrasting Orwell’s and Huxley’s views about the future, exposing the uncanny resemblance of today’s society to both dystopias: “in a nutshell, it’s the choice between Big Brother watching you or you watching big brother [the reality TV show]”. She makes a case for the need of deepening our critical thinking skills so we can move from using data to merely count things to actually understand them.


2. Big Data Is Better Data

What the is the future of Big Data driven technology and design? In this talk, Kenneth Cukier, the data editor for The Economist, explores the implications of the Big Data revolution that will transform how we live, work and think.


3. Tracking Our Online Trackers

As a member of the last analog born generation, I find myself in perpetual conflict between privacy and the excitement of an always connected society. In this short and to the point talk, Gary Kovacs explains why web tracking is not 100% evil — personal data can make your browsing more efficient; but he also questions the ethics of web tracking and online profiling and asks us to not forget to watch those who are watching us. 


4. Your Social Media "likes" Expose More Than You Think

Watch this talk to find out the surprising things Facebook (and others) can guess about you from your random Likes and Shares and how fortune 500 companies use this data to make predictions and target you based on your purchase intent.


5. The Up-Side Of Data

Jessica Donohue, a researcher and expert in financial theory and investor behavior, calls data analysis an insightful modern-day treasure hunting, and explains why passion matters when it comes to transforming Big Data into knowledge that can make a difference – As she confesses at the beginning of her talk: “The one thing that can always get me excited is a virgin database ready for research.” I know what you mean Jessica! 


Whether you’re new to Big Data or an expert in the field, hopefully you found these videos as insightful as I have in understanding the power and influence that Big Data has in our lives. The end is nowhere in sight. This just the beginning of the profound effects this will have on transforming our world and society. 

Juliana Toro
Juliana Toro
An artist by heart, designer by trade, Juliana’s career spans both physical and digital products. She is currently studying Mechatronics Engineering. Her goal is to bring her passion for design into the world of robotics. As the Creative Director at ePush!, Juliana’s daily work involves designing didactic marketing materials for ePush!’s products.

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