As entrepreneurs for a small tech start-up, Paul’s lecture was something we resonated with. We looked at excuses that stifle innovation (from “it’s not in the budget” to “can you guarantee this will work?”) and we looked at environments for innovation: diversity, selection, perpetuation, co-evolution, unlearning, disruption, simplicity, spare capacity, and time. Surprisingly, not a lot of domains reach these criteria.
After Paul, Ulrich Mans outlined the trends and challenges on Big Data for Humanity and how they translate into projects at the Peace Informatics Lab. To begin with, he defined Big Data with the five Vs: (1) volume, scale of data; (2) velocity, analysis of streaming data; (3) variety, different types of data; (4) veracity, uncertainty of data; and (5) viability, access to data. Then he discussed four trends that should be kept in mind during the duration of the summer school: (1) the emergent need for data for good (the third pillar beside intelligence and commercial purposes); (2) upcoming technologies that generate 'bottom-up' data (not only large organisations); (3) the growing possibilities for crowd and peer-to-peer technologies; and (4) an expanding ecosystem with different themes, stakeholders, and attitudes.
We began to digest the information… and then started to digest actual food with a lunch at a nearby restaurant. We got to know a little bit more about each other in time for a long and comprehensive introduction round. This was different to other conferences, where a simple name/who we are will suffice, and different to how we introduce and get to know each other in the start-up industry — copious amounts of family-friendly beverages. We introduced ourselves in a very structured way: our names, what we do, our challenges, our expectations, and what we hope to learn from the summer school. So, a very long and very productive session!
After we figured out who was who, Thomas, Jorn, and Jos from Leiden University's Centre for Innovation gave us a brief overview of the three different tracks of the programme. Thomas leads Policy: how can we use (new types of) data in order to improve our policies for realising peace and justice? Jorn focusses on Behaviour: how can we use digital technologies in order to facilitate peaceful behaviour? And Jos looks at Governance: how can we maximise benefits and minimise risks through responsible data use?
For the end of the first day, we split off into groups, picked a case study, or looked at the general umbrella of “big data”, and had exploratory discussions about these three themes. We had some great discussions here where our different backgrounds and expertise informed each other and clashed (in the most constructive of ways, of course).