Big data and you

Big data and you

By Anthony Lilley


Get to grips with what big data means and what it can do for the cultural sector in this transcript of Anthony Lilley's presentation from AMA conference 2013.

I'm a lapsed arts creative. I was a theatre director and producer dabbling in technology when I first came out of college. I then repaid most of the money I lost putting on ITC-level plays, by sorting out data, databases and box office issues for a few years and presenting (I believe) the first Arts Council-funded tour of seminars on the World Wide Web in 1994.

I diverted into being the creative head of Magic Lantern Productions, working in digital media and broadly in learning and media and broadcasting.

I was commissioned by Arts Council England and NESTA to work on the Counting What Counts report about eighteen months ago. I'd been banging on about what was coming - the world of Big Data and increasing amounts of data available being both an opportunity and a threat for the cultural sector. We started at a high level talking about the policy area around how we make the case for culture and public service broadcasting.

I've been a non-exec at OfCom for about five years until recently and I'm very concerned with being able to make an evidence-based case that when we spend public money on cultural things - whether that's BBC, Channel 4, arts funding, museums or whatever - we are able to show the impact of what we do.

I believe that increasingly we are starting to see - via social networks, through people's behaviour online that then affects their behaviours in the'real world' - positive impact in new and exciting ways which might help us make the argument for spending money as a society on culturally important things in addition to some of the ways we've used in the past.

I was interested in the theoretical end of how that might be done but when I started to dig into it, it became apparent that there's a set of questions about what 'big data' is that needed answering. And also a set of questions about how you get ready to take advantage of it because, none of us in the sector are the scale of Google and there are a lot of practical issues to resolve around how you get ready to take advantage of the opportunities. Counting What Counts looks at that stuff but it's not a practical guide. It's slightly more academic and a policy guide based in practice.

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Resource type: Research | Published: 2013