Strata Newsletter: November 30, 2011

The rise of Clojure and a look at the design behind data visualizations.

O'Reilly Strata newsletter header

“Over the last five years, people rarely had the word ‘analytics’ in their profile. Now, it’s just sky-rocketed.” —DJ Patil

Top-of-the-List Thinking from Edd & Alistair

Seeking Clojure
Big data is changing the programming landscape. The
need for distributed, fault-tolerant systems is affecting everything from systems architecture to programming languages. One of the stars rising on this trend is the Clojure programming language, with its affinity for data and strong support for concurrency. A recent conference celebrated that, resulting in a great write up from Ted Leung on his experiences at last month’s Clojure/conj. He writes, “Almost all of my conversations at the conference involved the questions, ‘Why are you at Clojure/Conj?’ and ‘How did you get interested in Clojure?’ . . . The question of ‘why’ boils down to three themes: Clojure itself, data, and Clojurescript.”Leung delineates those three sections with an insightful perspective on the software world, and mixes opinion and color in with his reporting on the schedule.

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Edd Dumbill

Alistair Croll

Edd Dumbill & Alistair Croll
Chairs, Strata

Free Online Strata Conference
Moving to Big Data
Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 9am–11am PST

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This free online event will look at how Big Data stacks and analytical approaches are finding their way into organizations, and the roadblocks that can thwart efforts to become more data-driven. Join Strata chairs Edd Dumbill and Alistair Croll for a session with top-drawer speakers. Topics include:

  • Top-down: What CEOs Can Do to Accelerate Data Mindsets

    Diego Saenz (Data Driven CEO), Jonathan Bruner (Forbes Media)

  • Web Analytics: The Enterprise Gateway Drug to Big Data?
    Justin Cutroni (Cardinal Path)
  • Take a Lesson from the Research World

    Kaitlin Thaney (Digital Science)

  • How Will Deep Q&A Impact the Use of Analytics in Business?

    Christer Johnson (IBM)

  • How to Get There from Here: The Road to Enterprise Data
    Lynn Langit (Teaching Kids Programming)

<!– Strata Online Conference, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 9 – 10:30am PST–>

This online conference brought to you by: Microsoft

Register Now for Free

Quick Bytes
Short Items of Massive Interest

Trendy or Trend-Setting?

“Yes, data scientist is a trendy new job title to emboss on your business card,” admits blogger James Kobielus. “But it’s also a very useful new term for referring to a wide range of advanced analytics functions that heretofore have had no consensus category label. . . . . [F]ar more data scientists work in the business world than in the halls of academia or think tanks.”

TextMinr Opn
Willie Faler has been thinking a lot lately about democratizing machine learning and intelligence software. In fact, he’s been thinking about it so much that it’s led him to create a new startup, TextMinr. Faler writes, “The plan is to expose large parts of the underlying technology that drives GreedAndFearIndex in the shape of REST API’s and a web console/dashboard, so that others can innovate on top of it and make use of state-of-the-art text mining and natural language processing technology without having to spend years learning how it all works.” Pricing is still in flux but TextMinr is open for beta business.

Writing About Numbers
Select stories from Radar’s data forum

One World Learning
The Learning Registry
So here’s the problem: The Internets are lousy with information. They should therefore be a goldmine for educators looking to construct appealing content that will immediately goose students into rapid, engaged learning. Except that finding this golden content is inordinately difficult to find for teachers with limited time to surf the salty waters of the web. Enter The Learning Registry, which Radar contributor Marie Bjerede describes as “open application programming interfaces that allow publishers and others to quickly publish metadata and paradata about their content.” This would allow APIs to be tagged for content appropriate to students ages 5 to 7, for example, and would free teachers up from having to find content that’s already been found.

138 and Counting
Data artist in-residence for The New York Times, Jer Thorp was recently asked by Popular Science to create a visualization that represents the magazine’s 138–year archive. In a recent blog post, Thorp describes his process and the eventual outcome: a visualization that he says “is anchored by a kind of molecular chain.” We just know that it’s pretty darn beautiful.

Three Good Things
Three stories, one page

Created by Gina Trapani, ThinkUp is a free open source site that allows followers to cache their important Internet info someplace that might not go away—like your own server. Surely you remember Friendster. Have any idea how to refriend the friends you befriended? Exactly. ThinkUp acts as a repository of your online life and runs on equipment you own. It also allows users to see their network activity, including new followers, and to map that information. Expert Labs’ founder Anil Dash describes ThinkUp’s launch as “software that matters.” He writes on his blog that “ThinkUp’s launch matters to me because of what it represents: The web we were promised we would have. The web that I fell in love with, and that has given me so much. A web that we can hack, and tweak, and own.”


An offshoot of TweetMeme and one of only two sites officially licensed to re-spew Twitter’s firehose (Gnip being the other), Data Sift is well-named. Users can sift through the 250 million tweets currently created each day to mine for demographics, sentiment, and even klout. What’s strange is that the company offers MySpace data—is this some kind of archival treasure from a time long ago?—with Google + and Facebook information available on the horizon.

Massively Large
Google’s BigQuery Service V2 is taking sign-ups. BigQuery promises to allow interactive analysis of “massively large datasets—up to billions of rows.” In a blog post announcing the changes to BigQuery, Google cites Michael J. Franklin, professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley, as hailing BigQuery’s ability to process big data “jaw-dropping.” You’ll have to let your own jaw decide.

For Your Viewing Pleasure
Selected Strata Videos

O’Reilly editor Julie Steele joins her coauthor Noah Illinsky to discuss the topic of their latest book, Designing Data Visualizations, in this free, one-hour webcast devoted to learning a linear process of encoding information for visual transmission and subsequent decoding by wetware (the reader’s brain).

Looking for more? Visit

In this Issue:

  • Top-of-the-List
  • Quick Bytes
  • Strata OLC – Dec. 7
  • Radar’s Data Blog
  • Strata Videos – Data Visualizations
  • Three Good Things
  • New Titles
  • Upcoming Webcasts
  • Free Reports

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