skip to navigation skip to content

‘Data’ and popcorn


New exhibit at the Science Museum in London features research about our Big Data by Dr David Stillwell of Cambridge Judge Business School.2016_news_dataandpopcorn_883x432

Dr David Stillwell
Dr David Stillwell

A new exhibit at the Science Museum called Our Lives in Data features much-cited research on social media data by Dr David Stillwell, University Lecturer in Big Data Analytics & Quantitative Social Science at Cambridge Judge Business School.

David’s research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that highly sensitive details of an individual’s personality can be accurately predicted based on their Facebook “likes”.

“As the amount of data collected grows so does the debate around data ownership,” the Science Museum says in describing the new exhibit, which will be in place until September 2017. “Over 90 per cent of all available human data has been recorded in the last two years and is already being used to transform the world around us.”

The free exhibit at the museum’s Wellcome Wing includes a video in which David speaks about his research on Big Data, as well as an interactive display based on David’s research: people rate brands they like or dislike, and then receive a personality prediction at the end along with a “personalised” advert for popcorn.

For example: a person whose selections in the interactive system indicate that they are “mainly reserved” receives a popcorn ad showing them nibbling popcorn in a comfortable chair at home; while a “more competitive” person is shown throwing pieces of popcorn into their mouth rapid-fire, with a caption that asks, “How many can you catch in a row?”