The Happy Technologist Interesting Geekdom


Heritage Health Prize: On Algorithms, Rights, Patents and Patients

So my goal for the weekend was to submit an entry to the Heritage Health Prize. It took me until Monday night (have to work off-hours, this isn't a work-sponsored event), but our team (the Data Monkeys) (with Jeremi and Chris at this point) are now entered and somewhat amazingly NOT in last place! Yay!

But I'm ahead of myself... the Heritage Health Prize is a data competition run through Kaggle, who runs these sorts of things. It's a $3-Million prize competition for a method of predicting what hospital patients will spend time in a hospital given their prior years' medical history.

I've been wanting to enter something like this for a while. I don't house any real hopes of winning (I have some fake hopes, of course); this sort of money attracts teams with far more depth of experience in data mining algorithms than I have -- our team leans more towards data management, but not analytics. Still, this is an opportunity to head in that direction, so I'm going to take it.

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Data Ethics, Privacy, and Responsibility

We've seen a lot of high profile data privacy and data leak issues in the news lately.

And I'm sure the list could go on and on and on...


Visualization and Data Topics

Topics near and dear to my heart, largely because they keep me employed, absolutely include all things Data related. In particular, lately, Data Visualization has been a hot topic. We got to attend a presentation today by Frank van Ham about some IBM offerings in the Data Visualization space.

IBM has some pretty cool things going on.  Sadly for us tinkerers, a lot of their cool stuff is either tied to expensive proprietary software, or simply way too complicated to just play around in your free hours with a random data set and a laptop.  Fortunately, Frank reminded me that there are a lot of tools out there, that can let you do just that sort of playing, and often with a tiny footprint and for free.  IBM, for example, runs Many Eyes, which is apparently now bearing their Cognos brand, and which allows you to play with a ton of cool visualizations without too much more than a web browser.

Many Eyes isn't alone, though... right now I've got over a hundred decent sites tagged "visualization" over at Many Eyes is one of them; Protovis, Processing.js, Flare, and many others provide a rich playing field for starting with visualization. Some of these are tools, others are examples, but there's plenty to look through so you can gain inspiration or code snippets.