Last night fellow research analyst Ryan Gallagher and I went along to the penultimate session of the Big Data Discussion Series at the Royal Society. The series is being run alongside the National Library’s Big Data exhibition and explores the nature and implications of big data and how it may serve as a tool in facing the challenges of the current era.

The theme of last night’s session was ‘Growing up digital’. Kim Hill chaired a panel of ‘digital natives’: Guy Ryan, Director of Inspiring Stories; Erika Pearson, Department of Film Media and Communication at Otago University; and Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Director of Creative Freedom Foundation.

The discussion raised a lot of interesting questions about what it means to be a ‘digital native’, whether this term is even relevant or helpful, and what big data and technology means for culture in the 21st century. The panel also talked about privacy and copyright in a global information economy – and why you should always read terms and conditions before signing up for online services, lest you unknowingly sign away your left kidney!

It was a fascinating discussion, well worth a listen. It will be broadcast on Radio New Zealand on 31 March, after the 4pm news – or you can listen online at

The last session in the Big Data series will be recorded on 3 April at 6pm and will focus on ‘Open Data – letting it loose on the crowd’. The discussion is open to the public and is being held at the Royal Society in Thorndon. Tickets are $10. Bookings through the Royal Society at









Note on featured blog image: This artwork – Synthesis by Simon Doherty – was commissioned to commemorate the official reopening the National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa on 27 Novemebr 2012. ‘This piece is a demonstration of the various rendering techniques that have developed over the history computer graphics. Made up of 256 tiles to represent the number of possible values within 1 byte of data.’

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