In this era of big data, each and every one of us is the source, and some would argue – owner, of reams of data. Where we live, how much we exercise, what kind of healthcare we get, what we’ve bought and read online, all could end up as part of a massive database somewhere, ripe for the picking.
That can be cause for concern, or excitement, depending on your point of view and who’s doing the picking.
It could be an internet provider trying to place the right ads for you to see, or a scientist trying to cure cancer, or a journalist trying to root out corruption.
Journalists are increasingly doing their own number-crunching and reporting on it, rather than asking scientists to tell them what they’ve found. Call it data journalism, or computational journalism, or knowledge-base journalism, it’s a hot field these days, with top journalism schools offering dual degrees and specialized training in computer programming and statistical analysis.