The Data & Society Research Institute is a self-described "new think/do tank in New York City dedicated to addressing social, technical, ethical, legal, and policy issues that are emerging because of data-centric technological development." Now it has revealed it is looking for its first expert fellows, people who will help the mission to help more people access data.
"Potential fellows are invited to imagine a specific project that they would execute to help society’s understanding of and ability to adapt to a data-soaked world," the institute says.
Springing from the Council for Big Data, Ethics, and Society—itself an initiative partly backed by the National Science Foundation with some money from Microsoft's research wing—the Council intends to knock down barriers to big data. The whole point is to both gather "big data" from projects like medical studies and economic experiments more safely, and bring the results out from behind closed corporate doors.
Microsoft's senior researcher, danah boyd, a woman who, as she explained once to Fast Company, understands the value of real-life networks as well as digital ones, is deeply involved with the Council for Big Data. Big data itself is, of course, very much in the news as both governments and companies face the tricky matters involved in gathering and using giant data sets to improve the world.