Jer Thorp on data as the new oil

I’ve just been reading a thought-provoking blog post from Jer Thorp of the New York Times on the Harvard Business Review website. The point I thought was quite new and insightful is that if people understand that they produce data by just living in contemporary society, if they see it and can control it to some extent, then it will become a commodity that corporate bodies have to respect more, and that can be actively approved by citizens for uses such as health research. Consider if you will the example of OpenPaths

My strong suspicion (please let me know of any stats to back this up) is that almost everybody wants their (public) health (care) data to be used for research that improves the world, and in fact most people are quite surprised that it is not.

While everyone in our society is producing vast quantities of data, individuals rarely see or interact with any of it. When people are given tools to store, visualize, and explore their own data, they gain an understanding of the worth and utility of this information. Applied on a broad scale, this improved understanding of data could lead to better decisions by individuals — both in cases where there data is being misused and in cases where data can be applied to solve important problems like disaster response, cancer diagnosis or disease spread.


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