Microsoft brings 3D maps to Excel users

Microsoft has rolled out a new visualization feature for Excel called GeoFlow. It’s definitely pretty, and if you’re using Windows and trying to track activity over space and time, it might be useful, too.

Why big data matters and data-ism doesn’t

Not all data analysis is created equal, and understanding the difference is critical as our society places a greater value on listening to the data. Using big data to cure disease is one thing, using statistics to ruin my sports-watching is quite another.

Why Trifacta is teaching humans and data to work together

A new startup called Trifacta, founded by UC-Berkeley professor Joe Hellerstein and Stanford professor Jeffrey Heer, wants to eliminate much of the hassle of making messy data usable. The company combines machine learning and human-computer interaction, and has raised $4.3 million from Accel Partners.


Cloud computing and trickle-down analytics

Some people predict 2013 will be the year Hadoop becomes mainstream. Such an occurrence will only be possible if the technology trickles down to a broader base of users and lowers many of the barriers to adoption it carries today. A major limitation of big data, after all, is that the technologies used to analyze it are not easy to learn. It doesn’t have to be that way, and this research note looks in detail at how components of technologies like Hadoop are finding their way into tools that target less-sophisticated users — from business users to receptionists to high school students. Thanks to cloud-based services, data visualization tools and more, analytics can be made easier, and maybe even fun.

Can spawn the data scientists of the future?

We live in a big data world, full of complex algorithms among any type of information one can imagine. Gaining the skills to work with it requires a lot work, however — and the first step in changing that might be realizing that data can be fun.

IBM makes big data easy for the little guy

USC Annenberg Innovation Lab launched a film forecaster last month that utilizes IBM’s BigSheets analytics tool. It showed that Big Data analysis is something that can be done by non-technical people and it underscores the promise of data analysis when it reaches the masses.

Data for doctors: Big data meets a big business

Forget the division between structured and unstructured data. For the benefits of the big data era to reach businesses bottom lines or to change behaviors, companies will have to figure out how to bring the results of Hadoop analytics to HR and middle managers.

FinTech startups wield data and smarts

The FinTech Innovation Lab, an accelerator program for financial tech startups, graduated its first class on Friday. This first batch of companies is bringing some impressive ideas to bear on data, analytics and payments and showing there’s room for new approaches in the financial sector.

Facebook Draws a Map of the Connected World

When you have almost 600 million users and a “social graph” of the connections between them, you can do a lot with that data — so a Facebook intern plotted the connections between millions of users and came up with a map of the socially connected world.