Presidential Chair and Professor of Information Studies at UCLA Christine Borgman spoke on the impact of contemporary data-sharing research at the Social Sciences and Media Studies Building on Friday.

Borgman’s lecture was part of the “Big Data Brown Bag Series” at the Center for Information Technology and Society — or CITS — which is a research center that studies the ways technology impacts cultural and social innovation in modern-day society. Through the lecture series, CITS hopes to engage students and other community members in an educated discussion on “big data” — large and complex data sets that are difficult to process using traditional processing means.

With a doctorate in communication, a master’s in library science and a bachelor’s in mathematics, Borgman pulled from her interdisciplinary education to outline her observations on data sharing in today’s world, giving input on how sharing processes can be improved.

In recent years, researchers primarily sought ways to publish data, Borgman said, but in today’s world, researchers must shift their focus toward figuring out ways to make reusable data.
“There exists a sort of paradigm shift,” Borgman said. “Data that is published helps create new projects and ideas for other researchers, and that is why data sharing is so important — so that the scientific lifecycle can continue.”

UCSB graduate student in communications Melissa Bator, who is currently working with CITS, said Borgman’s talk will help guide uncertain new researchers in regard to the kind of data they should collect.

“Many investigators have difficulty imagining who might want their data or for what purposes they might be useful,” Bator said.

According to Lisa Parks, director of CITS and former Department Chair of Film & Media Studies at UCSB, Borgman’s diverse academic background allows her to reach out to audiences from a range of academic fields. Students, professors and administrators, such as UCSB’s Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas attended the lecture, which according to Parks, “shows you the importance data sharing has to so many fields.”

“People from all sorts of departments, ranging from geography, to astronomy, to mathematics, to communication came to Dr. Borgman’s presentation,” Parks said. “People from departments as different as those would never have come together had there not been a presentation like this.”

As technology plays an increasingly significant role in everyday life, the issue of data collection and sharing is also becoming an increasingly relevant topic, according to Borgman, who said she hopes CITS will keep students and the community informed on these issues.

The “Big Data Brown Bag Series” at CITS continues this week with presentations on multidimensional big data, as well as on information diffusion in social networks. On Nov. 6 journalist and novelist William T. Vollmann will discuss his experiences regarding government surveillance.

A version of this article appeared on page 1 of October 28, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.