Obama’s Chief Scientist: Using buzzword “big data” insulting

Obama’s Chief Scientist: Using buzzword “big data” insulting
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The chief scientist on last year’s ‘Obama for America’ election campaign has warned about the overuse of the term “big data”.

Speaking at the ADMA global forum in Sydney this morning, Rayid Ghani said that people working in the digital sphere were insulting themselves by using the term.

“I think people that use these words are, quite frankly, insulting themselves,” said Ghani. “With big data, people are now saying you can do this and that, but they’re doing the same thing they did five years ago,” he said, adding that “in terms of functionality, it’s no different to a year, or two years ago”.

“The buzzword increases expectation to an unrealistic hype.”

With Australia due to go to the polls next month, Ghani also highlighted that one of the things the Obama campaign struggled with was engaging with younger voters. 

“We struggled in how to get them involved more,” he said. “Our social media strategy was around ‘let’s put this on Facebook and see what happens’. Ghani said this drove his team to figure out how to use social media to better engage with younger people that the campaign wasn’t connecting to. 

He added one of things his team did was ignore social media as a listening tool, “because that’s not our voting population, it’s not representative”.

“What we did is use social media as an advocacy tool,” said Ghani.

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