Saturday, March 10, 2012

CEDO 540 Week 5: Data is a Droid

I always liked Data (Brent Spinner) in Star Trek: Next Generation as a replacement for Spock. Nice to have someone(thing) to be able to interpret all those Yottabytes (1024) of information. So one of our real life droids is Google with Google Trends and Insights, trying to give some sort of sense of a lot of data. They don't have voice search yet so you can't talk to them like you can to Data. I suppose someday we'll get to interact with something like Watson from IBM (Jeopardy playing computer with voice recognition). Pair this up with a Dick Tracy watch and we're good to go. iOS seems to be moving this way, at least according to the ads. Ask a question - get an answer. I wonder what Apple is using for background data for this?

This sort of thing is I suppose a little bit easier with a slew of programmers writing complex algorithms than asking a high school student to make sense of some of the data available. What seems to be the trend with a lot of technology will be that troops of hard core coders do the grunt work and the rest of us need to learn how to use the apps that go along with what the coders come up with.

So do we really need to teach students how to find data, analyze it and interpret it? I suppose we still do now for a while until the critical mass of data has been organized and is easily searchable and usable. Then the task will be a bit simpler. Bring it on Web 3.0! I think the pat that students really need to know is  some of the basic stuff that we have learned in class. How data is used and can be interpreted meaning students need to understand how data can be manipulated to tell a lot of different stories based on the agenda of the interpreter. Media awareness. Knowing this, students will have a much better crap detector (a reference to Postman & Weingartner's Teaching as a Subversive Activity).

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