25 episodes, and more than 2.5 years – plus ça change …

It’s our Silver Jubilee – 25 times SmallDataForum, and so much has happened since our first episode less than a fortnight before the EU Referendum. And yet here we are, Brexit still front and center and no one’s none the wiser.

When we started, our aim was to reflect on communicators’ needs

  • to increase the value of data,
  • to understand data and its insights to inform better business decisions,
  • to manage data from machines (data processing) and humans (turning Big Data into small, relevant, business-critical insight).

Little did we foresee how much our chosen field would be dominated by the narrative of Western democracy and society being undermined by the powers unleashed by social and digital media.

Yet here we are, with Neville discussing GDPR as the modern equivalent of the Feds nailing Al Capone for tax evasion.

Perhaps an update of The Untouchables will see Benedict Cumberbatch play DCMS Committee Chairman Damian Collins as a modern Eliot Ness. Or Christian Bale as EU Competition Commissioner Margarete Vestager, in the new tradition of the near-real-time biopic.

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Reading the runes for 2019: Brexitexit, the end of Chairman Zuck, and might China be the new Russia?

The SmallDataForum celebrated its third Christmas with a highly calorific and somewhat alcoholic Italian lunch, followed by post-prandial musings about high- and low-lights of 2018, and some crystal ball gazing for 2019.

Our regular followers / listeners – or just about anybody with any interest in tech and communication – won’t be surprised by a list topped by Facebook, and then some more Facebook (in short FB, pronounced fib). Followed by GDPR and other regulatory activities, mainly by the EU.

And of course we also touched on the topic that’s been with us from episode one, when it was called Brexit. These days, Brexitexit is beginning to sound more fitting.

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Looking forward by looking back

Janus

As the Small Data Forum progresses through its early teenage years – our latest podcast is episode 14 already – regular co-hosts Thomas Stoeckle, Neville Hobson, and Sam Knowles are taking the opportunity to look forward by looking back.

Patients of our own medicine, you might say, we’re using the year end and what we’ve observed and learned in 2017 to enter the predictive analytics business.

We take our inspiration from Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, transitions, and time, after whom January is named. A sculpture of Janus appears at the top of this blog, from the Vatican Museum.

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04: Brexit, Trump and the challenge of better forecasting with better data

Our latest Small Data Forum podcast focuses on recent surprise political outcomes and the mechanisms at play: the psychology of predictions, the new phenomenon of fake news, echo chamber effects and the way data was analysed and interpreted.

Recent expressions of democratic political will – the UK referendum on EU membership, the US presidential election – have surprised most observers and commentators.

Both outcomes, ie Brexit and Trump, were not what most of the polling data indicated. This episode of the Small Data Forum is asking whether we should and could have seen this coming.


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02: The role of data in Regrexit

Episode 2 of our Small Data Forum podcast focuses on the role and use of data in the campaigning for the EU referendum in the UK.

Neville Hobson, Sam Knowles and Thomas Stoeckle discuss the outcome of Brexit and Regrexit (the so-called buyers’ remorse of some leave voters, following an immediate change in the argument and presentation of facts, as well as data evidence of negative effects on currency, share prices etc.).

Ranging from failed predictions and misinformation, to the need for more learning and education related to data, to the use of data visualization and linguistic analyses and Bayesian statistics to segment audiences and identify archetypes, the conversation focuses on how data can and must become the solution rather than the problem.


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