The Power of Open Data

Open data seems all well and good in theory, but it can be hard to envision practical applications. Essentially, this is making large sets of data open to the public.  One New York statistician, Ben Wellington, is making a name for himself by asking questions and finding answers through open data resources. The results are fascinating—and have had a big impact (and he wasn’t even trying).

Wellington is extremely skilled at not only crunching numbers, but also using numbers to tell stories and then using the combination of numbers and stories to affect change. In the article A Data Analyst’s Blog Is Transforming How New Yorkers See Their City, NPR gives one example of what happened when he looked at parking ticket data. Read Wellington’s account in his blog post Success: How NYC Open Data and Reddit Saved New Yorkers Over $55,000 a Year. Other popular posts from his blog I Quant NY include a look at the cleanliness at the city’s fast food restaurants and the prevalence of Starbuck’s in Manhattan. Great stuff for inquisitive minds.

Weekly Download 14.24

download-158006_640Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

Just when you think the development of artificial Intelligence has stalled, here are The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World.

How We Trick Our Brains Into Feeling Productive is an interesting take on procrastination and productivity.

The complete guide to using your smartphone abroad is just that.

Malcolm Gladwell on What Really Makes People Disruptive: attitude. This attribute trumps tech, money and brainpower.

In A Data Analyst’s Blog Is Transforming How New Yorkers See Their City, NPR reveals the power of data, presentation and social media tools. A smart 33-year-old living on Brooklyn is affecting government policy in a big way through his blog.  A perfect story on inquiring minds using the newly published large data sources (New York City’s open data) and asking questions/displaying data in easy to consume ways and making it visible.