Data science and technology give us the tools to revolutionize health care. Now we have to put them to use.
“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.” — Jeff Hammerbacher, early Facebook employee
“Work on stuff that matters.” — Tim O’Reilly
In the early days of the 20th century, department store magnate John Wanamaker famously said, “I know that half of my advertising doesn’t work. The problem is that I don’t know which half.”
The consumer Internet revolution was fueled by a search for the answer to Wanamaker’s question. Google AdWords and the pay-per-click model began the transformation of a business in which advertisers paid for ad impressions into one in which they pay for results. “Cost per thousand impressions” (CPM) was outperformed by “cost per click” (CPC), and a new industry was born. It’s important to understand why CPC outperformed CPM, though. Superficially, it’s because Google was able to track when a user clicked on a link, and was therefore able to bill based on success. But billing based on success doesn’t fundamentally change anything unless you can also change the success rate, and that’s what Google was able to do. By using data to understand each user’s behavior, Google was able to place advertisements that an individual was likely to click. They knew “which half” of their advertising was more likely to be effective, and didn’t bother with the rest.
Since then, data and predictive analytics have driven ever deeper insight into user behavior such that companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are fundamentally data companies. And data isn’t just transforming the consumer Internet. It is transforming finance, design, and manufacturing — and perhaps most importantly, health care.
How is data science transforming health care? There are many ways in which health care is changing, and needs to change. We’re focusing on one particular issue: the problem Wanamaker described when talking about his advertising. How do you make sure you’re spending money effectively? Is it possible to know what will work in advance?
Cyberwarfare needs to be framed far more broadly.
When we hear the term “cyberwarfare” we think of government-backed hackers stealing data, or releasing viruses or other software exploits to disrupt another country’s capabilities, communications, or operations. We imagine terrorists or foreign hackers planning to destroy America’s power grid, financial systems, or communications networks, or stealing our secrets.
I’ve been thinking, though, that it may be useful to frame the notion of cyberwarfare far more broadly. What if we thought of JP Morgan’s recent trading losses not simply as a “bad bet” but as the outcome of a cyberwar between JP Morgan and hedge funds? More importantly, what if we thought of the Euro’s current troubles in part as the result of a cyberwar between the financial industry and the EU?
When two nations with differing goals attack each other, we call it warfare. But when financial firms attack each other, or the financial industry attacks the economy of nations, we tell ourselves that it’s “the efficient market” at work. In fact the Eurozone crisis is a tooth-and-claw battle between central bankers and firms seeking profit for themselves despite damage to the livelihoods of millions.
When I see headlines like “Merkel says Euro Rescue Funds Needed Against Speculators” or “Speculators Attacking the Euro” or “Banksters Take Us to the Brink” it’s pretty clear to me that we need to stop thinking of the self-interested choices made by financial firms as “just how it is,” and to think of them instead as hostile activities. And these activities are largely carried out by software trading bots, making them, essentially, a cyberwar between profiteers and national economies (i.e. the rest of us).
Examples of our evolving media landscape.
I’ve been thinking for some time how the web is “legacy” software, and that so many media companies just getting on the web are already behind the curve. This tweet says it all.
Or almost all. Because of course, the web isn’t just one thing. At Vidcon a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by the remark of one panelist, a young YouTube video star, advising his peers to get a Facebook page as well as their YouTube channel: “The audience there is older, and more male, but it’s still worthwhile….”
So even though YouTube is older than Facebook, the audience is younger…
It’s a wonderful, evolving media landscape these days. So much change, so much opportunity!
A common and honest essence unites characters and businesses alike.
Why is the "Captain America" film a better adaptation than "John Carter"? Because "Captain America" understands the essence of what matters about the main character. The same notion applies to the authenticity of business brands.
The goal of the Health Data Initiative is to be the NOAA of health data.
The Health Data Initiative’s annual “Health Datapalooza” is behing held June 5-6 in Washington, D.C. The deadline for applications is just a few weeks away (March 30).
Todd Park is a guy who could do literally anything he put his mind to, and he's taking up the challenge of making our government smarter about technology.
Thoughts on a large and hard-to-measure economy.
Tim O'Reilly: "It's quite clear to me that there is a new economy of content that is quite possibly larger than the old one, but just not as well measured, because we measure value captured, not value created for users."
A look back at "Unix Power Tools," "DNS and Bind," and other O'Reilly titles.
Tim O'Reilly: "It's amazing to me how books I first published more than 20 years ago are still creating value for readers."
A protest against SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act.
On January 18, 2012, oreilly.com went dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act. We believe going dark was the principled action to take.
The solution to piracy must be a market solution, not a government intervention.
SOPA and PIPA not only harm the internet, they support existing content companies in their attempt to hold back innovative business models that will actually grow the market and deliver new value to consumers.