Graphic image of globe and fiber optics.

Image by PeterPhoto123, Shutterstock: A new podcast from Stanford explores the big data revolution and its implications.

Stanford Report - October 27th, 2015 - by Nancy Murphy

Raw Data is a new podcast from Stanford University that examines how big data and cyber technologies are changing the relationships between people, technology and social institutions.

All podcasts are available on iTunes and Soundcloud, as well as associated blogs on the websites of Worldview Stanford and the Stanford Cyber Initiative. Raw Data is produced biweekly by Worldview Stanford and supported by the Stanford Cyber Initiative.

Each episode features stories and perspectives from experts and innovators – at Stanford, in Silicon Valley and beyond – who are at the forefront of the big data revolution and an understanding of its implications.

Digital landscape

The first three episodes demonstrate the breadth of issues and impacts that Raw Data covers. Episode one, Uploaded, explores how our simplest digital footprints – fragments of Google searches, Facebook likes, and innocuous phone calls – can expose deeply intimate facts about us, such as whether our parents are divorced or if we own a gun.

Computational social scientist Michal Kosinski, an assistant professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, and Jonathan Mayer, a computer science and law student who took on Google over privacy, are featured.

Episode two, Work in the Crowd, considers how big data is changing work as we know it, from how we find jobs and collaborate with others to managing professional reputations that are increasingly defined by our digital activities.

Commentators include Hayden Brown from Upwork, the largest online freelancing website; Danny Margulies, a successful online freelancer; Stanford data scientist Ramesh Johari, an associate professor of engineering; organizational learning expert Melissa Valentine; and Michael Bernstein, assistant professor of computer science.

Episode three, The Hippocratic Algorithm, focuses on big data's transformative impact on medical knowledge, disease prevention and treatment, and the doctor-patient relationship. Participants include Stanford Medical School professors such as Michael Snyder, who collects and analyzes thousands of data points about his own body, and Sylvia Plevritis, a pioneer in data-driven cancer research, along with Abraham Verghese and other physicians who are rethinking bedside medicine in the digital world.

Upcoming episodes will address the future of crypto-currencies, digital democracy, a critique of the hype surrounding the big data phenomenon and more.

Beyond big data

Worldview Stanford creates interdisciplinary learning experiences about the future to prepare leaders for the strategic challenges ahead.

"The Raw Data podcast is a natural extension of Worldview's course, 'Behind and Beyond Big Data,'" said Brie Linkenhoker, the director of Worldview Stanford. "As we realized the magnitude and impact of the big data revolution, we wanted to share our learning and insights with a much broader audience. We think the Raw Data podcast will be a great medium for expanding these critical conversations."

The Stanford Cyber Initiative agreed and offered to partner on the podcast. This new initiative, launched in 2015 with a grant from the Hewlett Foundation, produces research and frames debates on the future of cyber-social systems, in which digital technologies interact with existing social systems. The initiative has already funded 11 interdisciplinary research efforts.

"Our aim is to draw attention to the ways that cyber-technologies are transforming our society, from the privacy of individuals to the ways we work, vote, shop and visit the doctor," explained Stanford Law Professor George Triantis, co-director of the Cyber Initiative.

He added, "The research we've supported is examining changes that are at the forefront of a national dialogue around technology and security, and we're excited to be sharing our researchers' work through Raw Data."

The Raw Data episodes are recorded at KZSU, Stanford's radio station, and are produced and anchored by two members of the Worldview staff, Michael Osborne and Leslie Chang. Both are experienced radio producers and Stanford alumni.

Osborne said he believes that podcasts are the perfect medium for capturing big data's transformative potential.

He noted, "By delivering important information through multiple stories and perspectives, podcasts are both educational and entertaining. Everyone we talk to across campus has a story about how big data and digital technologies are changing what we can know about the world. This affects us personally and professionally, individually and collectively."

Originally published in Stanford Report