Privacy v Security, Transparency v Secrecy: The NSA, PRISM, and the Release of Classified Documents

By Mary Ludloff

Privacy, Anonymity, and Judicial Oversight are on the Endangered List

PRISM 3An age old debate has once again reared its very ugly head due to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance, PRISM, and the astounding lack of any rigorous oversight on the NSA’s vast data collection apparatus.  While PatternBuilders has been incredibly busy, in our non-copious amounts of spare time Terence and I have also been working on our update to Privacy and Big Data (which is undergoing another rewrite due to new government surveillance revelations that for a while happened hourly, then daily, then weekly but certainly are far from over). It’s important to note that pre-revelations  our  task was already herculean due to mainstream media’s pick up on “all stories related to privacy” (a good thing) that often missed the mark on the technical side of the house (we often find ourselves explaining to non-techies just what meta data is which usually happens after someone on CNN, Fox, NBC, ABC, etc., butchers the definition) or got tripped up by the various Acts, Amendments, state laws, EU Directives, etc., that apply to aspects of privacy.

Over the last few weeks as details about PRISM emerged, it’s become clear to me that main street America may still not understand the seismic shift that big data and analytics brings to the privacy debate. Certainly the power of big data and analytics has been lauded or vilified in the press—followers of our twitter feed are used to seeing the pros and cons of big data projects debated pretty much every day. We’ve (Terence and I) talked and tweeted about privacy issues as it applies to individuals, companies, and governments. Heck, we even wrote a book about privacy and big data. (more…)

July 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm 2 comments

Microsoft News Center: PatternBuilders brings big data analytics down to size

By Mary Ludloff

MSOFT BizAs regular readers of this blog know, Terence and I spend a great deal of time talking about the state of the big data analytics industry and what is needed before mainstream adoption becomes an actual fact (as opposed to the hyperbolic reporting on any and all things related to big data). Recently, we sat down with the Microsoft BizSpark (a partner of ours) team to talk about the state of big data analytics today and why we decided to co-found PatternBuilders. To read the full story, go here. And because I can never resist a great quote (I am in marketing after all), here’s what Terence had to say during our interview:

“We found it disconcerting that there was such a huge divide between big data excitement and actual adoption rates. Taking advantage of big data analytics often requires a budget, toolset and in-house expertise far beyond what most enterprises can muster. Mary and I founded PatternBuilders because we thought there must be a better approach.”

For more information on our technology choices and why we are unabashed fans of Microsoft technologies, you may find these posts helpful:

May 25, 2013 at 7:26 am Leave a comment

Big Data Project: Objectives First, Plan Second (Part 3)

A top-level view of our data project over a series of posts.
By Mary Ludloff

big data playbook 3Welcome to the third post in our series on a big data project. Our goal is to walk you all the way through a big data project from its inception through its completion (or depending on the project, through deployment and maintenance). Those of you familiar with our series know that we include our Big Data Playbook rules as we address specific topics—we may repeat some as we go along but if you need to refresh your memory on where we are, go to Part 1 and Part 2.

You now know that we are working with the University of Sydney on a project that looks at the impact social media comments have on a company’s stock and whether this mediates the influence of primary news. Specifically: Is a company’s stock price influenced by both and can we isolate and study the impact of those distinct sources on that stock price? (more…)

May 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm 1 comment

Enterprise Software in the Cloud: Why We Chose Azure as our First PaaS Platform

By Terence Craig

SW in the cloudI’ve been absent from the blog too long, but if you’ve been following my colleagues (Mary and Marilyn) postings, you’ll see it’s been a very busy and fruitful time at PatternBuilders.  While I’m still overdue for the next segment of the architecture blog series, I thought I would take a break and talk a bit about some of the things we learned as we moved our product and business model to Microsoft Azure.

As someone who has worked with Microsoft technology and partnered with them off and on over the last two decades (even flirting with going to work for them a couple of times), the most surprising discovery was how serious Microsoft has become about the cloud, open source, and being an active and supportive partner for startups.  As many of you who have been around as long as I have will no doubt remember, this is a very different, some would say revolutionary, move for the world’s most powerful proprietary software company.  We had some concerns when we became members of Microsoft’s Azure Startup program BizSpark Plus and subsequently the more exclusive BizSpark One, but it has turned out to be a great experience for us on both the business and technical level. (more…)

May 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm 4 comments

Boston Marathon Bombings: How To Help

By Mary Ludloff

Sadly, this week we were reminded once again of the fragility of life and the resilience of the human spirit. Terence, myself, and the PatternBuilders team send our condolences to all who were impacted by this tragedy. For those who would like to help, donations can be made to:

A number of resources can also be found here.

Much as it pains me to say this, beware of bogus Boston Marathon charity websites. Melanie Hicken of CNNMoney offers some advice on what to look out for.

Finally, there have been many moving tributes made by people via blogs, twitter, and other media sources. We leave you with this simple statement projected on the wall of the Brooklyn Academy of music:

Boston Marathon 2

April 17, 2013 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

Big Data Project: Start with a Question that You Want to Answer

A top-level view of our data project over a series of posts.

By Marilyn Craig

Start with a questionWelcome to the second post of a series on a big data project that will (Mary and I hope) provide clarity and insights on how to successfully complete a big data initiative. Now, just in case you’ve forgotten the first two rules in our Big Data Playbook, I am going to repeat them here because they play into our topic of the day which is all about “starting” your big data project:

Rule #1: Big Data IS NOT rocket science.

Yes, far too often those lucky internal folks tasked with managing a big data project fall into the trap of data science paralysis which is similar in thought to analysis paralysis. By this I mean that there are so many moving pieces to capture, so many technology decisions to make, so many skill positions that need to be filled, so many fill-in-the-blanks that need to get done that you never actually get started which leads me to our second rule:

Rule #2: Garbage in, garbage out.

(more…)

April 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm 3 comments

Big Data Project: Let’s Start at the Very Beginning—The Big Data Playbook

By Mary Ludloff

big data playbookIn my last post, I wrote about the three V’s of big data and why there are only three. There has been a messaging pile-on that seems to be happening in the big data space that even I, long-time marketer, find disconcerting. So, over the course of a number of posts, my colleague, Marilyn Craig, and I are going to de-mystify a big data project, taking apart each stage of a real big data initiative as if it were a release post-mortem. We will be talking about roles and responsibilities, data governance, project and process management, what went right, what went wrong, what we should have done differently. Except in this case, it will not be after the fact but rather a stage-by-stage review as we work on a real-world project. For your sanity and ours, we have created a special category, Big Data Project, as well as a tag with the same name. If you search on either, you will see all posts related to the project. Additionally, all posts about the project will start with Big Data Project in the title. Who knows? Maybe when we’re done, we’ll write a book (knowing what I know now about writing a book, I can’t believe I just said that)!

We’ll talk more about the project in the next post but first I wanted to take a look at a big data failure that anyone involved in a major enterprise application deployment could have seen coming and is Rule #1 in our big data playbook:

Rule #1: Big Data IS NOT rocket science.

(more…)

March 21, 2013 at 10:50 am 4 comments

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