In Sophocles’ play, Oedipus became king of Thebes by solving a riddle posed by the Sphinx: what goes on four feet in the morning, two feet at noon, and three feet in the evening? Oedipus guessed correctly that it was a human: first a baby crawling, then an adult walking, then using a stick in […]

Tomorrow I am starting a new job at the University of Amsterdam as a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow in Development Studies. I’ll be continuing and expanding the line of research that I’ve become most interested in during my work at the Oxford Internet Institute, looking at the role of big data in Development. I use […]

Last week the World Economic Forum sponsored a high-level workshop on the idea of the ‘personal data ecosystem’ and how it might look in different contexts. The event raised some interesting conflicts regarding the way different sectors conceptualise, never mind deal with, personal data. Represented there were the health sector, leaders of NGOs working in […]

How is the web going to shape knowledge amongst the world’s poorest people? Perhaps through services offered by mobile providers such as Airtel, which announced yesterday that Wikipedia will be available via SMS to Kenyan mobile phone subscribers. This is an important step forward: Kenya has been a leader in channelling services and applications through […]

This year’s IGF was, unsurprisingly, permeated by the issue of surveillance. Almost every discussion landed on it sooner or later, led partly by the Forum’s headlining of issues of cybersecurity and online freedom.  This led to the use of the term ‘big data’ almost exclusively to mean personal data, and to denote a particular kind […]

I’m at the Internet Governance Forum 2013 in Bali this week, which kicked off this morning with a discussion on ‘Growth and user empowerment through data commons’ The panel was myself, Alan Paul of the World Economic Forum, and Amparo Ballivian of the World Bank’s Open Data initiative. The panel addressed the issue of how […]

At the 2013 European big data conference in Brussels, where a mix of private and public sector leaders are discussing how to use big data to make Europe more competitive. It’s a very wide-ranging discussion which has gone from academic research data infrastructures to public genomes and self-driving cars. The mix of public and private […]

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