Making Data Useful: User-centric Approaches to Data


July 16, 2013


Clay Shirky


New York University


We are swimming in data. Every minute, YouTube sees two days’ worth of video uploaded, Tumblr sees about 25,000 blog posts, and there are 2,000 check-ins to Foursquare. Yet most uses of data—big or small, point or range, stream or batch—are undertaken by organizations for organizations. Though we mortals have benefited from available data in services like search and mapping, most of the innovation in combinations and uses of data takes place far from where we are.

In this keynote presentation from the 2013 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, Clay Shirky investigates how we can make that data useful to individuals, not just organizations.


Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, where he researches the interrelated effects of our social and technological networks. He is the author of many books including Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations and his writings have appeared in The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review and Wired.
Described by WIRED as “one of the hypernetworked nodes who secretly run the world”, Clay Shirky researches and writes about the interrelated effects of social and technological networks. Shirky teaches at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, where his current course, “Social Weather” examines the cues we use to understand group dynamics in online spaces and the possible ways of improving user interaction by designing our social software better. He consults with a variety of companies and countries on network design and communication, with a focus on the rise of decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer, web services and wireless networks as alternatives to the wired client/server infrastructure currently characterizes the web.