Introduction to Data Science is a class at Columbia University in the Department of Statistics. The course was designed and taught by Dr. Rachel Schutt in the Fall of 2012. The course is being team taught in the Fall of 2013 by Dr. Schutt and Dr. Kayur Patel.
A recent roundtable, hosted by the Pew Research Center and the Knight Foundation, brought together key practitioners, funders and experts in the growing nonprofit news sector.
Beth Kanter's insight:
Regardless of the method of reaching audiences, participants shared the view that the digital nonprofit news sector has reached the point where it needs a clearly defined and widely accepted set of audience metrics. But the uncertainty over what those metrics are triggered one of the most animated segments of the conversation.
It is easier than ever to measure and monitor people and machines, but the technology of Big Data is not without its shortcomings.
Beth Kanter's insight:
It’s encouraging that thoughtful data scientists like Ms. Perlich and Ms. Schutt recognize the limits and shortcomings of the Big Data technology that they are building. Listening to the data is important, they say, but so is experience and intuition. After all, what is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?
The rise of open data in the public sector has sparked innovation, driven efficiency, and fueled economic development. And in the vein of high-profile federal initiatives like Data.gov and the White House’s Open Government Initiative, more and more local governments are making their foray into the field with Chief Data Officers, open data policies, and open data catalogs.
While still emerging, we are seeing evidence of the transformative potential of open data in shaping the future of our civic life. It’s at the local level that government most directly impacts the lives of residents—providing clean parks, fighting crime, or issuing permits to open a new business. This is where there is the biggest opportunity to use open data to reimagine the relationship between citizens and government.
Beyond Transparency is a cross-disciplinary survey of the open data landscape, in which practitioners share their own stories of what they’ve accomplished with open civic data. It seeks to move beyond the rhetoric of transparency for transparency’s sake and towards action and problem solving. Through these stories, we examine what is needed to build an ecosystem in which open data can become the raw materials to drive more effective decision-making and efficient service delivery, spur economic activity, and empower citizens to take an active role in improving their own communities.