Archive for the ‘Cloud Computing’ Category


How Big Data Can Affect the Way We Learn

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 by

There’s no doubt that Big Data and cloud computing have the ability to transform the way we look at our jobs, our social habits, and each other. If recent research is any indication, this trend will continue as the technology begins to weave into the way the next generation is educated. Examples of data-based applications and concepts range from students learning how to read to their college graduation are growing more significant every day and promise to exert an even greater influence in the years to come.

How big data stands to change the way the next generation learns about the world.

Big Data stands to change the way the next generation learns about the world.

Emerging uses of the cloud in education
According to a recent piece from Wall Street Journal contributor Lisa Fleisher, Big Data doesn’t just track how quickly a student is learning and his or her deficiency patterns, but can also direct teachers and publishers toward more effective systems. One of the shining examples of this increasingly common practice is the “Teach to One” program underway in New York City public schools that uses digital data to track how well students are learning math concepts.

“The amount of data collected is expected to swell as more schools use apps and tablets that can collect information down to individual keystrokes, or even how long a student holds a mouse pointer above a certain answer,” the source explained.

The program is also testing effective learning environments for students. Of the data collected, each user is tested in the typical classroom, after a one-to-one teaching session, and after taking a lesson online to determine which setting is best for cognitive development. With data now available on millions of students across the country, there is more insight than ever into what works (or doesn’t work) for today’s students.

Another productive use of cloud hosting that has emerged recently is the crowd-funded Reading Rainbow application, which garnered over $5 million on the Kickstarter platform this past spring. Based on the long-running PBS television series starring LeVar Burton, the app provides reading and teaching resources aimed at children just beginning to read at a low price for elementary schools that struggle with program budgets. Although the software is still in development, the Reading Rainbow educational platform will be deployed primarily on tablets for students and on larger displays for teachers in lieu of a chalkboard.

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Let’s Play Ball – with Big Data

Thursday, August 7th, 2014 by

America’s favorite pastime has always been a highly analytical sport, something that technological advancement has only done more to ingratiate into our culture. It seems perfect, then, that Big Data is gaining an important foothold among baseball fans across the country, and its involvement in the statistical side of the game only seems likely to increase in importance in the coming years. Let’s take a look at some of the ways the cloud computing phenomenon is affecting life on the diamond and the people watching at home on the sofa.

America's favorite pastime has always been a highly analytical sport.

America’s favorite pastime has always been a highly analytical sport.

Big Data on the field
Like many other methods used to collect marketing information on those interested in a particular sector, baseball venues are able to learn what matters to their customers by offering something in return. According to Samantha Meckler of Smart Data Collective, this goal is accomplished by offering fans tweeting and texting from the stands free on-site Wi-Fi, giving the stadium access to their analytic data to create future advertising decisions based on this information.

“Fans now have the ability to connect at various high-speed access points throughout these spaces,” Meckler reminded readers. “This, at the very least, helps improve phone signal strength and reduce individual data charges. For teams, this provides a gateway for collecting new insights on fan behavior that contribute to an overall data-driven strategy for customer relations.”

When baseball aficionados interact with each other and post their stadium selfies to the cloud infrastructure, this also serves a dual purpose. Any flattering, exciting social media interaction with the brand is free advertising to an entire network of people who may have forgotten the season had started or wanted to buy tickets. This is part of marketing the game experience as the new “cool,” and one’s friends and family have the power to influence that outcome more than an ad on the side of a Facebook feed ever could.

Big Data off the field
Naturally, cloud computing technology has had an equally major influence on the world of sports statistics – the sheer ability to store larger amounts of information to analyze has enabled stats addicts to take their hobby even further and sports reporters to rev their engines.

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Pinterest is one of social media’s Big Data darlings

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 by

To understand the objective of social super-company Pinterest is to first know that its prime real estate for harvesting valuable marketing insights is using Big Data. Why? The answer couldn’t be simpler. Pinterest makes its users talk about what interests them feel fun and rewarding, while providing the website a clear view of how to market to them. It’s an ingenious device that is unlike any other social media outlet today, and is a prime example of how cloud computing can be a far better gauge of what matters to consumers than the most well-planned focus group.

To understand the objective of social super-company Pinterest is to know that it's prime real estate for harvesting valuable marketing insights.

To understand the objective of social super-company Pinterest is to know that its prime real estate for harvesting valuable marketing insights is using Big Data.

How does it work?
Pinterest has given its users the option to begin “pinning” their favorite things within a cloud infrastructure in exchange for better related results within the network. When an account-holder posts something like an image or link to an article on his or her pin board, they received related pins that somehow correspond to items they’ve deemed interesting in the past. According to a blog post from one of the company’s Data Engineers, Mohammad Shahangian, allowing information to be shared within the cloud host will yield better suggestions, leading to more activity on the site – a positive feedback loop for both parties.

The post stated that Big Data “enables [Pinterest] to put the most relevant and recent content in front of users through features such as Related Pins, Guided Search, and image processing,” Shahangian wrote. “It also powers thousands of daily metrics and allows us to put every user-facing change through rigorous experimentation and analysis.”

Over time, more and more users have opted to share their information within the cloud to achieve these results, and Venture Beat contributor Jordan Novet noted increased popularity in the trend since the product’s launch in 2012. The tactics have influenced other social media outlets into integrating ads into their websites’ most important sections.

What can be done with this data?
Though Shahangian’s blog post makes no mention of it, using cloud computing to take stock of users’ interests can be a powerful tool for getting advertisers to work with the company. Unlike the ads present on other major social media sites, Pinterest sells “Promoted Pins,” meaning that your account, picture, or other information is more likely to be shared with users than the average result, and that it will find the right consumer.

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How Big Data is changing organ donations and transplants

Thursday, July 31st, 2014 by

For years, the process of becoming an organ donor has been the same. To be registered, a person needs to attend a drive or go out of the way to get a membership card. To this day, 95 percent of those in the United States who donate sign up on yet another frustrating trip to the DMV, the very place most people try to avoid at all costs. Today, there is still a massive shortage of these volunteers in the U.S., an issue that is being addressed using Big Data and cloud computing to make access for donors and those requiring organs easier.

New technology allows those in need to find organs like others check out library books.

New technology allows those in need to find organs like others check out library books.

Diagnosing the volunteer shortage
Activist groups like have worked to promote more organ donor sign ups in the United States as a result of the current shortage. According to a report from Health Data Consortium, 18 patients die in the country every day waiting for an organ that doesn’t come and nearly 120,000 are currently on the national waiting list. In an interview with, founders Greg Segal and Jenna Arnold explained how cloud hosting could change this shortage and increase the rate at which those who need donations receive them.

“There’s plenty of room to increase donation rates; 90 percent of America supports organ donation, yet only 40 percent have registered, which means there are 150 million Americans who support the cause but still haven’t registered,” they expanded.

Although Big Data can be used to find those who haven’t donated, Segal and Arnold suggested using the technology to hone in on the donors who can really help.

“That sounds like a subtle distinction,” they explained to Health Data Consortium, “but only about 1 percent of deaths medically qualify for donation, so the key innovations will be in registering the right people, not just in registering more people.”

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Unpacking “the Internet of Things”

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 by

If you’ve paged through a business or technology magazine in the past several years, you’ve definitely come across the term “Internet of Things” while looking for news on Big Data. But what does it actually mean? Unpacking the term can be a hefty but necessary task to push the cloud computing concept into the zeitgeist, which many believe will happen in the near future.

Deconstructing an oft-confused term and exposing its true meaning.

Deconstructing an oft-confused term and exposing its true meaning.

What is it?
According to Techopedia, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is “a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.”

Still sound like a science fiction movie? The truth is, devices are already being programmed and designed with this eventual goal in mind. As Wi-Fi spreads to become more convenient and working across multiple platforms becomes the norm, society will gradually inch closer to being one with the Internet of Things.

“The term is closely identified with RFID [radio-frequency identification] as the method of communication, although it may include other sensor technologies, wireless technologies, or QR codes,” the definition continued.

Consider how cloud hosting already impacts our everyday lives via information sharing on mobile devices as well as interaction with Big Data through the way we are marketed to, how we receive information every day, and the way we consume our media. Technology is becoming ubiquitous: many public spaces are now equipped with Wi-Fi and even our televisions and houses are “smart” enough to interact via security systems, for example. In many ways, we’re already well on our way to achieving this future that sounds straight out of a Hollywood script.

When will it become a reality?

Not surprisingly, there’s no exact answer for when the Internet of Things will be considered complete and normalized in our global culture. First, continual achievement in technology needs to reach a stage where there’s less room for error, and second, industrialization needs to transform the amount of access remote and undeveloped areas have to Internet-friendly devices.

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