Problem-Solvers: DJ Patil

800px-Peter_Brantley,_Karen_Gifford,_DJ_Patil_and_Tim_O'Reilly

Peter Brantley, Karen Gifford, DJ Patil and Tim O’Reilly
Photo by Jōichi Itō
licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

DJ Patil was named as one of the world’s seven most powerful data scientists in Tim O’Reilly’s Forbes article of November, 2011.  He, in fact, co-coined the term “data scientist.” Most recently, he was named as a World Economic Forum 2014 Young Global Leader. What I particularly like about Dr. DJ Patil is his enthusiasm and promotion for projects that use big data to make the world a better place. In an article he published on LinkedIn today, he outlined some of the organizations other 2014 Young Global Leaders have started that capitalize on big data, including a company that harnesses the talents of data scientists to assist non-profits and a crisis text line for distressed teenagers that reaches them through their primary mode of communication. He also named government and health projects that will likely have beneficial impacts for millions.  

In a time when much of mainstream media focuses on data breaches, government spying, social media privacy issues, and use of data to target your political vote (all important topics!), it’s great to read and understand how we can use big data to help us, not just control us. There is much debate yet to be had about the acceptable uses of data, but we certainly can’t be fully informed if we only focus on the negative. DJ Patil reminds us that there are talented people who are both passionate about data and making the world a better place.

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Wednesday’s Toolbox: technological competence

Technology is a common language of our time, and if we don’t “speak” it, we are not going to be part of everyday conversation. No one can afford to ignore technology because they’re not “that type” or it’s “too complicated.” Learn to talk or be left out.

It’s not as hard as you think. The resources are everywhere. Start by not ignoring the technology news, by asking friends about their favorite technology and what it does for them, and checking out web resources to add to your technology skill set. Here is a great one for today: ALISON’s Digital Literacy & IT Skills. There are over 137 free courses available!

Go grab some technology skills.