Knowing what you don’t know

2012-10-25 13.17.49

There are plenty of skills I picked up as a reporter that have served me well in my freelancing career — aggressive researching, interview timing, writing on tight deadlines, and the ability to quickly know what you previously didn’t know. This last one, probably the most vital.

I’ve learned about Community Development Block Grants, the many challenges of running city government, the ins-and-outs of New England’s energy grid and other esoteric subjects well enough to tell others about them in a 20-inch story written at an eighth-grade level. While I’m not at a daily anymore, I am occasionally called upon to learn and write in a short time frame. Like when I was asked to provide some content for a cloud server service website. Crash course in IT anyone?


Big Data in a Small City

I had no idea what the term “Big Data” meant until I was assigned this story. When I called my first source, I felt a little sheepish about being so clueless about it, but that’s often the case with journalism. One of the best tips I got as a fledgling reporter was that I should never be afraid to admit I didn’t know something. So I asked, what is Big Data. I was told the name is really just a silly tech term, like Web 2.0, and the actual substance of Big Data, well, it’s big. You’ll see when you read the story.


Photo by Mike Ross, UNH Photo Services

Photo by Mike Ross, UNH Photo Services

Preparing Students for Big Data at UNH Manchester

The amount of stuff we compile on digital devices has exploded in the past five years. Everything from the selfies we take on our iPhones to the medical data gathered every day at hospitals across the country, the amount of digital data now being created is massive. Coming up with better ways to store, access and process this information is a fast growing segment of the computing technology field, called “big data,” and it’s an area where University of New Hampshire at Manchester students will be able to learn more with the launch of a new class in 2015.

Jeremiah Johnson, a lecturer in mathematics at UNH Manchester, is currently developing the new course, “Statistics in Computing and Engineering,” which will be offered in the spring semester next year. Aimed at students in the Computer Science and Entrepreneurship program, the class will discuss methods for analyzing large amounts of data and breaking the information into functional pieces, essentially laying the groundwork for the skills needed to work in “big data.”

“Students coming out of college with a computer science degree will need to know how to work on big data,” said Johnson. “The big growth area in Silicon Valley is data-driven technology.”

Read more at UNH Manchester Campus News.