Big data

In the name of accuracy, Google retools its Flu Trends model

Google has responded to criticisms over its Flu Trends tool and has reworked its predictive model to also account for data from the Centers for for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s still not a replacement for actual scientific research, but should be more accurate.

MLB plans ad exchanges to target premium baseball fans

Major League Baseball is using new data tools to create more detailed profiles of people who visit team and league websites. MLB plans to use the extra data to create profiles of affluent customers, and to let brands target those profiles on private ad exchanges.

VCs pour money into data startups during 2012

Venture capitalists made more big data investments than ever before in 2012, and a few more deals have already closed in 2013. Entrepreneurs from several venture-backed data startups will speak at Structure:Data next month.

As data gets bigger, what comes after a yottabyte?

Forget what comes after infinity, we at GigaOm were worried about a smaller problem, namely what comes after a yottabyte. Well now we know the answer to that problem — a 1 followed by 27 zeros (a yottabyte only has 24 zeros), otherwise known as a brontobyte.

Geospatial big data startup SpaceCurve nets another $3.5M

SpaceCurve has raised another $3.5 million for its technology that should allow users to analyze mountains of geospatial data. Although the company has yet to deliver product code, it already has Fortune 50 customers waiting in the wings to test it on some difficult problems.

How Atigeo uses semantics to make search interactive

Sure, you can trust a site is delivering you the best search results, but sometimes it might be nice to dig down, see a little of what the system sees and find that needle in the haystack. A new semantic search interface might let that happen.

Turning big data into action: Know when to evacuate

Rice University researchers have built a web-based calculator that predicts the risks associated with hurricanes for an address. The tool uses historial and meteorological data to generate a risk profile for residents of Houston. This is what big data tools should do — offer users actionable intelligence.

True&Co fails to support launch demand

Online bra retailer, True&Co, which launched last week to help women find the perfect bra, is having trouble delivering its products. As the Internet crosses over into the real world, not only websites must prepare for a launch, but the entire supply chain.

Does function trump form in application design?

There’s a principle of application design that beautiful means usable, but a new study out of Google suggests that while beauty doesn’t necessarily affect perceived usability, poor usability can negatively affect perceived beauty. Nobody wants a reputation as selling a product that’s both unusable and ugly.

Every heartbeat tells a story. Why not track it?

Big data meets the quantitative self with a project to collect every heartbeat for science. Dr. Leslie Saxon wants everyone to send in their heartbeat data to a website to create a database to track heart health. Such a database could help predict heart health.

Making data more human: Jer Thorp [Video]

I loved this talk by Jer Thorp, currently the data-artist-in-residence at the New York Times. His work has appeared in my publications but it is the first time I have seem him speak about humanizing data. This talk for Tedx Vancouver is highly recommended.

Graphic proof of big demand for big data talent

If you want proof of a skills gap in big data, check out these charts. In the past 12 months, demand for “big data” specialists, including the relatively new data scientist category, have exploded, according to listings.

Twitter snaps up Julpan in another Big Data play

Twitter has acquired Julpan, a New York City-based startup that analyzes real-time data collected from blogs, Tweets, status updates and news sources. It’s just the latest in a series of moves Twitter’s made to better analyze the huge amounts of data that flow through its service.

Plug in the patient: A planetary monitoring network

Thank the humble, cheap sensor, the standard wireless radio and basic data bases for the future of planetary assistance. A massive sensor and data network called the National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON, could go under construction as soon as this summer.

DataSift funding shows Twitter’s firehose is worth big bucks

Underneath Twitter’s fun and trendy public image, the data streamed through the microblogging service is apparently worth some big bucks. DataSift, one of only two companies authorized to re-syndicate Twitter’s content using its “firehose,” on Monday announced a $6 million venture capital funding round.

Can Big Data in Finance Lead to New Metrics?

I met with a cool startup called DueDil, which is trying to provide a Lexis-Nexis-meets-Google service that aggregates public data on public and private companies from a variety of databases and uses that to create new financial metrics to determine success.

Big Thoughts on Big Data: Infochimps

Infochimps is attempting to build a data market, and in doing so, the company is wading into some of the messiest and most unstructured data around, attempting to clean it up and put it up for sale. I talk to co-founder Flip Kromer about the challenges.

Exclusive: Big Data Startup Acunu Raises Small Funding

Big Data software company Acunu said it has closed £2.2 million ($3.6 million) in Series A financing. The startups software helps bridge the gap between expensive in-memory storage and cheap-but-slow hard drives, by offering a rewrite of the storage stack optimized for solid state drives.

A Data Dystopia and a Lack of Women Haunt SXSW

Every attendee of SXSW Interactive is used to the yoga, the HTML5, the gaming, and the death of journalism panels, but for 2011, the conference has fastened onto two new trends: data as a double-edged sword and a lack of women in technology and startups.

What Watson Taught Us: Humans Are Very Smart

Aaccording to one machine-learning expert, one key takeaway from Watson’s “Jeopardy!” victory is simple: humans are very smart. That a system such as Watson can understand natural language is a huge step forward, but it’s still only as good as its data and algorithms.

How OkCupid Demystifies Dating With Big Data

The interesting story behind OkCupid, the online dating site recently acquired by, is OkTrends, its blog that analyzes the site’s wealth of data to shed light on our love lives. But the interesting story behind OkTrends is its use of R to power those analytics.

Can Crowdsourcing Prevent Credit Card Fraud?

New start-up BillGuard is looking to build a crowd-sourced anti-virus billing protection system that digests a consumer’s transactional history and pulls in alerts from banks, existing members and the web. The system uses big data analysis and machine learning to help users spot fraud and errors.

Bundle Proves That Big Data Apps Aren’t Easy

Bundle uses the billions of Citi customer transactions to draw correlations between spending habits and what other people might enjoy or buy. CTO Phil Kim explains that wrangling even highly structured data takes a lot of organizing, a lot of computing and a lot of time.

MyCityWay Dives into Data, Comes Up With Gold

MyCityWay reached 1 million in downloads by combining familiar information like local dining, nightlife, deals and movie showtimes with government data that creates a very sticky resource with users. It’s a great example of how companies can mine overlooked data sets and turn them into businesses.

Google’s New Feature: “Trap My Contacts Now”

As part of its ongoing battle with Facebook over data portability as it applies to users’ contact information, Google has added a new warning message when you try to export your contacts to the social network: a message entitled “Trap my contacts now.”

Big Money for Companies That Can Analyze Big Data

As data volumes skyrocket, startups looking to take advantage of the opportunity in Big Data need to focus on the art of statistical-learning algorithms, says the founder of Dataspora. Modeling and analysis through algorithms is what will determine the winners and losers in Big Data.

New Facebook Groups Encourage Private Interactions

Facebook launched a new approach to understanding groups of friends today. CEO Mark Zuckerberg called groups “a fundamental building block” and “the biggest problem in social networking,” and said Facebook has determined the best solution is a social one: to enable users to tag each other.

Aster Data Gets $30 Million in New Funds

Aster Data, a big data analytics software company is saying that it has received $30 million in new funds from existing investors and a new undisclosed strategic investor. David Cheriton who backed Google and VMWare as an angel investor is also investing in the company.

Big Data Means Big Sales: IBM to Buy Netezza for $1.7B

IBM says it will acquire Marlborough, Mass.,-based Netezza Corporation, a maker of data warehousing analytics for a whopping $1.7 billion in cash. IBM is offering $27 a share for the Neteeza and hopes that the smaller company would help IBM with its growing business analytics practice.

Out of Stealth, Xeround Launches MySQL as a Service

Xeround, a Bellevue, WA-based start-up has come out of stealth and has launched the beta version of MySQL in the cloud and is offering relational database as an on-demand service. Xeround is available either as Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) or as a virtual appliance.

Mint Sets Spending Data Free

The online personal finance assistant Mint often mines user data for trends and interesting charts to feature on its popular corporate blog. Now the Intuit-owned company is preparing to release the data it’s collected on behalf of its 3 million users.

Quick Tip: Unresponsive Data Networks

Sometimes, the cellular data network just doesn’t want to play ball with your iPhone. It may not be immediately apparent, but you’ll find out when you try to load a page in Safari, for instance, and the progress bar will get stuck in one place.

Can Facebook or Twitter Spin Off the Next Hadoop?

In some ways, the fact that Hadoop is mature enough to inspire commercial products — Cloudera and Karmasphere, e.g. — means it’s yesterday’s news. Which open-source, big-data-inspired product will be the next to launch a wave of startups and drive tens of millions in VC spending?