February 6th, 2014 dd: Outpost, Digital Dumbo Host Talk on How Various Industries use Big Data


It’s hard to wrap one’s head around data if you just passed through a dd: Collective/Outpost meetup and realized you’re not a data scientist. At least, the one this blogger went to, which was called “Big Data: Predictive Tech, Serendipity, and Real Time Response,” presented by Bing last February 6 at Digital DUMBO.

You’re going to hear words like slicing and dicing and think what did you just walk into?! It doesn’t help that the venue, the futuristic dd: outpost, is just mesmerizing to look at as you watch the speakers present on the floor and then later see the floor transformed into a hangout place, with a little corner unraveling into a bartender’s corner.

Yes, the data jargon may throw you off initially, but you get what it’s all about if you ask the right question. What is the most searched word on weightwatchers.com? It’s chicken. So if it’s chicken, what do you with it? From the title of the event itself, the talk was freewheeling, especially when you have speakers from different industries talking about big data and they can’t really sink their teeth into the topic with the time limit.


Debra Anderson, instructor at the New School, co-founder at DataCoLab, founder & CEO at Culture Shock, talked about how technology plays an integral part in both media and entertainment.  


Jeff Hammerbacher, assistant professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, started with the most basic info of Mount Sinai Hospital—number of beds, etc., and this all plays out in his work. He mentioned a long list of data systems the hospital use-- like EPIC and Minerva. Does this indicate our electronic medical records are safe?  

“Most patients like their data to be able to treat them, but hospital administration chooses to be cautious about (how to go about using it),” he said.

Asked about wearable technology in hospitals in the future, Hammerbacher didn’t discount wearables for newborns and elders. Now that could spark an idea.


In terms of media content, Betaworks’ head data scientist Gilad Lotan showed how he does it, even how you can see your audience through his Giphy co-tag graphs, among other graphs he showed that looked like constellations. The ease of mining relevant content can only mean one thing. “We have this data and now it’s more affordable.”


But going to back to chicken, Virgilia Singh, global product manager of Search & Data at Weightwatchers, also expressed what it can do knowing what people want. “We’re starting to build customer models.”

Established in 2009, the venue, the dd: Outpost, is a unique community lounge and event space built by Digital Dumbo in partnership with Bing. Designed by Volvox Labs, it is a space for digital companies to hold curated events and presentations.