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'Huge Opportunities' for Harvesting Data Shown

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A representation of data harvesting.

Huge amounts of useful data are being generated by individuals using the Internet, and especially Twitter and Facebook, but much of that data is owned by public agencies or commercial organizations.


University of Manchester researchers have conducted a study on harvesting information from digital and administration data. The study found that huge quantities of useful data are being created as a result of processes connected to Internet users, Twitter and Facebook, but much of it is owned by commercial companies or public agencies.

"These new forms of data are a huge opportunity for understanding more about the big questions that face us all, such as health inequalities, discrimination, and environmental change," says Manchester professor Mark Elliot.

He notes that the line between researcher and researched is becoming blurred, and warns there is a risk that the reliability of social research will diminish if companies and organizations restrict access to data sources. "This is because to carry out proper research, we need to validate, replicate, and peer-review research effectively," Elliot says. "At the moment, the data world can seem a bit like the Wild West."

The series of interviews and a survey with leading academics also suggest that privacy could be an issue due to concerns about the links and data sharing between companies and government agencies.

From University of Manchester
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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