2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Unstructure: Smashing the Boundaries of Data

#sxsw #smashdata

ATTENTION: You must signup in advance to attend this workshop. You will need to have a valid SXSW badge, and an activated SXsocial account. To reserve your seat, please go here: https://sup.sxsw.com/schedule/IAP25173

When it comes to thinking about data, most software designers are stuck in a rigid, 2-dimensional mindset: "rows and columns." A shame, because breaking free from this "tyranny of the table" can bring our software to new heights: intuitive user experiences, fast development iterations, and cohesive apps.

In this workshop, we'll cover a few concepts that bring data design out of the 1970s, like: sparse representation, emergent schema, ultra-structure, prototype-driven design, graph theory, traversing the time dimension, and more. We'll run the gamut of philosophical approaches to understanding what is important in your mental (and software) model, and how to transcend your two-dimensional picture of data, and trade it in for an N-dimensional one.

Working hands-on with a simple "mock company" and its new killer app, you'll learn:
* The basic concepts of data design: entities, relationships, attributes, and types (along with a few better ways to notate them)
* How to experiment with creating these data structures in a couple existing cloud-based frameworks (e.g. google apps engine, force.com, heroku, etc.).
* How emergent techniques like schema-on-read and ultra-structure can simplify modeling (or, sometimes, complicate it)
* How statistical techniques from the data mining world can loosen our insistence on rigid models
* Why the time dimension is important (in data as well as schema)

- Prior familiarity with databases and SQL will enrich your experience of this workshop, but is not required; all the hands-on work will be done step-by-step and can be followed even if it's your first time seeing anything data-related.

What to Bring:
- Bring a laptop with (a) a modern web browser (Chrome is probably your best bet, as we'll be working with some Google apps), and (b) a unix-style command line (so, either a Mac, a Unix/Linux box, or Windows with Cygwin).



Ian Varley

Principal Member of Technical Staff


Ian Varley holds a Masters degree in Software Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His 2009 Masters Thesis, “No Relation: The Mixed Blessings Of Non-Relational Databases” was an early and widely cited analysis of data design patterns in NoSQL databases. He currently works on the Big Data development team at Salesforce.com and lives in Austin, TX.

Thanks to our sponsors

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Music sponsor

Sonic Bids

Interactive sponsors

Deloitte American Express Pennzoil