Getting the data you pay for

A new blog at Nesta, reflecting on Tim Harford’s recent critique of big data and why the recommendation to continue a decennial census is a good thing:

We live in a world of exponentially expanding data. Digitisation and the emerging internet of things have created a world in which our daily activities leave a digital trail. To an organisation or an individual with the right skills, that digital trail becomes data, able to be probed and interrogated for meaning, for correlations and for trends. But in the rush to take advantage of this tsunami of zeroes and ones, it’s important to remember that not all data is created equal.

Getting data from the web for research

I gave an internal talk at Nesta recently on ‘getting data from the web’, covering web scraping and open APIs. Its designed for researchers who might consider using these technologies but don’t know what much about them. It is not a technical guide though, so won’t help much if you want to get straight to business.

It belongs to a growing set of ‘data’ themed skills resources Nesta is collecting.

The Fat Lady Sings for Airplay Quotas: Cultural Protectionism Disrupted

domestic_share_of_music_onlineThe digital revolution has triggered dramatic shifts in how cultural products like music, books and film are produced, distributed and consumed. They are no longer physical items to be printed or pressed, but frictionless streams of bits. The commercial implications are now apparent to all. Less well-understood, though, is the cultural significance of this revolution. Existing research concludes that the ‘domestic share’ of music consumption (e.g. the proportion of music consumed in France that is produced by French artists) is high and has, if anything, increased since 1990. Our new research suggests that this share is lower online – particularly amongst countries with airplay quotas. Such quotas are the traditional response to concerns of cultural hegemony, but will almost certainly be futile in future: analogue policy in an increasingly digital world.

The Fat Lady Sings for Airplay Quotas: Cultural Protectionism Disrupted

This post, on the Nesta website, previews results for some work I’ve doing with Andrew Somerville (from Semetric, the company behind Musicmetric).