Coffee & Empathy: Why data without a soul is meaningless

As we move towards a quantified society, one shaped by data, we start to dismiss things that are unquantified. Empathy, emotion and storytelling — these are as much a part of business as they are of life. Here is why.

GigaOM Reads: A look back at the week in tech

Twitter turns seven and gets 200 million users; Hashtag is the new like; Kickstarter and Veronica Mars have a successful date; iWatch or iNot; Keep it away plus some other stories from the week and our Structure highlights.

How humans & machines can team up to solve big problems

In the same way a microscope helps augment the innate ability of the human eye, Quid is trying to create tools to augment how we as humans process unstructured data and visualize it, said Sean Gourley, co-founder and CTO of Quid at Structure:Data 2012.

Predicting the Unpredictable

yummy_wineAfter graduating from college, I left the barren Arizona desert for Manhattan to take my first job. It didn’t take long for my new Manhattanite friends to inform me that it was time to upgrade to wine from beer, so I enrolled in a wine-tasting class. But while it was great fun, I don’t think that I was any better at assessing the quality of wine after I’d completed the class than I was going in, though I was much better at faking it.
It wasn’t until years later that I discovered the secret, and it came via a Princeton economist. Understanding the fact that wine is an agricultural product, and as such is dramatically affected by weather, Orley Ashenfelter used decades of weather data and auction prices to come up with this equation for Bordeaux wines:

“Wine quality = 12.145 + 0.00117 winter rainfall + 0.0614 average growing season temperature — 0.00386 harvest rainfall”

Assessing wine is considered an art rather than a science, but oftentimes creativity is about applying a little science to art — as Orley did by taking into account weather and auction data. In an effort to inspire entrepreneurs to also turn ill-practiced art into science, below I share a few other examples. Read More about Predicting the Unpredictable