big data | October 16, 2012

Big Data Speaker Jer Thorp: "These Are Not Numbers, They Are Parts Of Our Lives." [VIDEO]

"We think about data as numbers," big data speaker Jer Thorp says. "What we don't think about, really, is what those numbers represent." Regardless of how meaningless, or how confusing, data may seem, Thorp presents a very human way of looking at our digital footprints. "These are not numbers," he argues, "they are parts of our lives." 

In a recent keynote, Thorp, the Data Artist in Residence at The New York Times, explains that data and numbers are "recording our histories." New technologies and digital devices have given us access to large quantities of data that, if we know how to analyze it, can tell us a great deal about who we are. Thorp is passionate about transforming this data into meaningful insights about society. Not only does he bring data to life on stage, he also combines art and science into beautiful big data installations. His "Cascade" project provides a stunning visual representation of the way we share information across social media. Further, the breakthrough software he created as part of the 9/11 memorial project was able to group victims by relationship—rather than arbitrarily organizing them in alphabetical order. His software-based work has been used across the world and his lectures humanize the influx of data that surrounds us every day to help us see the personal stories that exist within numbers.