This Week in Context (20130131)

Must-read this week is Siraj Datoo’s report on  ‘Why data science matters for Foursquare’  for The Guardian. This is a case in point of how things can be made easier on both user and smart phone through use of algorithms based on behaviour data. Thanks to these contextual clues, 4SQ managed to save on not only user frustration but also phone battery life, and has increased the time users spend on their app with 30%.

Other relevant news you should know about if you are into context, IoT or sentientness:

  • Connecting a variety of fitness data platforms together through API’s is the subject of Owen Thomas’ ‘MyFitnessPal Keeps Flexing Its API Muscles’ article on ReadWrite.  While I personally think it’s too early to declare MyFitnessPal as (emerging) winner in the health space – especially as this is ‘soft’ health data, but they definitely set a great example. 
  • The deadline for adopting the EU Data Protection Regulation has shifted to the end of 2014, reports Privacy Laws & Business. This is confirmed by EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, and should give the ministers of the 28 EU Member States in the Justice Council an opportunity to agree on the remaining controversial issues. For an overview who’s lobbying what way, have a look at There you’ll find Amazon, eBay and Bits of Freedom, but also The American Chamber of Commerce.
  • When Big Data Marketing Becomes Stalking, is a thoughtful opinion piece by researcher Kate Crawford.  Explicit permission and transparency, as put forward in the above mentioned law proposal, should be able to make a huge difference already.  I want to be able to decide what I consider to be ‘personal data’ and what I consider to be ‘private #handsoff data’.  I want to know what happens to my data. I want to know who’s accountable for keeping it safe. And – definitely not the least important – I want equal value in return. (via Maarten)
  • “The notion of predictive maintenance comprises both man and machine if we emphasise the action of maintaining. Then we see what really is at stake, namely maintaining optimal, wasteless relations with people, customers, citizens, machines, devices, systems, and systems of systems, large and small,” Jaap Bloem writes on the Sogeti blog. Read on at  Optimal, wasteless relationships between machines and humans alike.
  • Work up or pay up! Pact is a Fitness & health app that tracks your goals. With one caveat: you need to commit fines to these goals. Miss your goals and you have to cough up cash to pay your fine. This money is then redistributed to the people that do achieve their goals. (via Maarten)
  • Yahoo has acquired context-aware launchscreen app Aviate. This is now confirmed Yahoo’s Adam Cahan. For those who missed out on our Week In Context covering Aviate, the app “learns your habits and helps anticipate the information and apps you need.”

I’ll leave you with a YouTube playlist containing all the videos from the 2013 Strata Conference London, where we were part of the Startup Showcase. If you have time to watch just a single video, do allocate those minutes to Julie Steele’s Storytelling in the Age of Big Data talk. I promise you it is an inspiring story on how to make data more than (useful) numbers, and bound to put a smile on your face.

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