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M.I.T.'s Alex Pentland: Measuring Idea Flows to Accelerate Innovation - -
April 15, 2014 | NYT | By STEVE LOHR.

Alex Pentland --“Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread — The Lesson From a New Science.”

Mr. Pentland has been identified with concepts — and terms he has coined — related to the collection and interpretation of all that data, like “honest signals” and “reality mining.” His descriptive phrases are intended to make his point that not all data in the big data world is equal....Reality mining, for example, examines the data about what people are actually doing rather than what they are looking for or saying. Tracking a person’s movements during the day via smartphone GPS signals and credit-card transactions, he argues, are far more significant than a person’s web-browsing habits or social media comments....Central to the concept of social physics is the ability to measure communication and transactions as never before. Then, that knowledge about the flow of ideas can be used to accelerate the pace of innovation.

The best decision-making environment, Mr. Pentland says, is one with high levels of both “engagement” and “exploration.” Engagement is a measure of how often people in a group communicate with each other, sharing social knowledge. Exploration is a measure of seeking out new ideas and new people.

A golden mean is the ideal....[traders] with a balance of diversity of ideas in their trading network — engagement and exploration — had returns that were 30 percent ahead of isolated traders and well ahead of the echo chamber traders, too....The new data and measurement tools, he writes, allow for a “God’s eye view” of human activity. And with that knowledge, he adds, comes the potential to engineer better decisions in a “data-driven society.”
Alex_Pentland  books  cross-pollination  curiosity  data_scientists  data_driven  decision_making  massive_data_sets  MIT  Mydata  sensors  social_physics  Steve_Lohr  idea_generation  heterogeneity  ideas  intellectual_diversity  traders  social_data  signals  echo_chambers 
april 2014 by jerryking

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