Hilary Mason

Chief Scientist, Bit.ly

What Data Tells Us
11 minutes, 5.2mb, recorded 2011-02-02
Hilary Mason

Can you imagine how much is an exabyte of data? In an often quoted project, it was estimated that it would only take five exabytes to store "all words ever spoken by human beings." According to recent estimates, due to the explosion of Web2.0, social media, and user-generated content sites, we are now producing five exabytes of data online, every two days.

What secrets might lie within that data?  Hilary Mason ponders how we might use that data to create a better world?  As you might expect, dealing with this tidal wave of data has become a challenge for many companies.  How can we store so much data? How can we rapidly analyze it in real-time?  How can we organize it based on dimensions like time and location? How can we extract useable information from data, and share it?

While the challenges remain complex and many, the opportunities await.  As Hilary explains, with the infrastructure and processes to handle so much data becoming well known, a new era of finding value in data becomes possible.  As a new segment of the Information Technology industry, the management and analysis of large amounts of data, offers a new window onto the world.  Hilary shares her perspective using bit.ly as a simple example, but her observations show the promise of how big data might be able to make the world a better place.

Hilary Mason is the Chief Scientist at bit.ly, where she finds sense in vast data sets. Her work involves both pure research and development of product-focused features. She’s also a co-founder of HackNY, a non-profit organization that connects talented student hackers from around the world with startups in NYC. Hilary recently started the data science blog Dataists and is a member of hacker collective NYC Resistor.


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Photo: Hilary Mason Homepage