2015 Schedule
Interactive: March 13–17  •  Film: March 13–21  •  Music: March 17–22

The Empathy Gap: Why Stalin Nailed Big Data

Sunday, March 15
11:00AM - 12:00PM

JW Marriott
Salon 4
110 E 2nd St

“One death is a tragedy; one million is just statistics,” - so said Joseph Stalin, highlighting the key issue with “big data.” Data in its nature is dehumanising. In years gone by, the process of breaking into people’s homes to spy on them raised clear ethical issues. Now surveillance is executed at arm’s length and aggregated. We’re not looking at you; we’re looking at everyone.

No single person can feel victimised, because everyone is treated equally. Over the past few years, the behaviour of governments and brands that have ownership of our data has come under increased scrutiny as privacy violations become ever more commonplace.

In general, the response has been “oops,” a mea culpa and an admission that they hadn’t really thought through how it could impact individuals. The antidote to this issue is empathy; but how do you institutionalise empathy just as you would institutionalise big data?

In this talk, I will argue it’s time we put people back into data.


#sxsw #EmpathyGap


Martin Harrison

Planning Dir


Martin Harrison, Planning Director, is responsible for the strategic insight that drives great digital experiences. He has 15 years experiences in a variety of agencies and a variety of roles and h...

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