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The Human Face of Big Data First Edition Edition

65 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1454908272
ISBN-10: 1454908270
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Editorial Reviews


The New York Times
"Big Data Gets its own Photo Album"

All Things Digital
"The obvious gift to give this holiday season is "The Human Face of Big Data"

"Visceral, emotional and tangible."

"Mind-blowingly powerful"

Huffington Post
"a curious, wonderful beast -- captures a virtual universe with eye-opening essays and graphics"

Soledad O'brien, CNN
"its a beautiful book!"

The Wall Street Journal
"Far more than a coffee table book"

“In a gripping series of graphs, charts, and essays, the authors capture the meaning of the digital revolution.” --Entertainment Weekly
“…an enormous volume… that chronicles, through a splash of photos and eye-opening essays and graphics, the rise of the information society…. a curious, wonderful beast -- a solid slab that captures a virtual universe... This is one of those rare animals that captures its era in the most distinct of ways. It's the kind of thing you'd put in a time capsule for your children today to show them, long after you're gone, what the world was like at the beginning of their lives.” --Ted Anthony, Associated Press
"Big Data Gets its own Photo Album" --The New York Times
"Its a beautiful book!" --Soledad O'Brien, CNN
"Far more than a coffee table book" --The Wall Street Journal
"Visceral, emotional and tangible." --Wired
"Mind-blowingly powerful." --GigaOm
"Inspiring." --San Jose Mercury News
"A curious, wonderful beast - captures a virtual universe with eye-opening essays and graphics." --Huffington Post

About the Author

Rick Smolan, a former Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer, is best known as the creator of the Day in the Life book series.
Called “One of the 25 Coolest Companies in America” by Fortune, at Against All Odds Smolan and his partner, Jennifer Erwitt, orchestrate global photography projects that combine creative storytelling with state-of-the-art technology. Many of their books have been New York Times bestsellers and have been featured on the covers of Time, Newsweek, Fortune and USA Today.  Their projects often appear on television programs including the Today show, Good Morning America, ABC Nightline, ABC 20/20, and CNN's Situation Room. Their projects include America at Home, Blue Planet Run, The Obama Time Capsule, America 24/7, One Digital Day, 24 Hours in Cyberspace, Passage to Vietnam, The Power to Heal, and From Alice to Ocean. To learn more, visit

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Against All Odds Productions; First Edition edition (November 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1454908270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1454908272
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 11.5 x 14.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Rick Smolan, CEO of Against All Odds Productions, is a New York Times bestselling author and technology pioneer with more than five million copies of his books in print. A former Time, Life and National Geographic photographer, Smolan is best known as the co-creator of the "Day in the Life" books, the bestselling photography series in publishing history. His global photography projects feature the work of the world's leading photojournalists and combine creative storytelling with state of the art technology.

Smolan's newest book, "Inside Tracks: Alone Across the Outback" (2014), is a smartphone enabled coffee table book chronicling one of the most beloved stories in the history of National Geographic: Robyn Davidson's 1700 mile solo trek across the Australian desert with four camels and a dog, The book's publication was tied to the release of the movie "Tracks", produced by the Oscar winning team behind "The King's Speech". In the movie, Robyn Davidson is portrayed by Mia Wasikowska ("Alice in Wonderland") and Smolan is played by Adam Driver, (HBO's "GIRLS").

In the fall of 2012 Smolan released "The Human Face of Big Data," focused on how our planet is developing a nervous system thanks to humanity's new ability to collect, analyze, and visualize vast amounts of data in real time. The project, sponsored by EMC, Cisco and SAP, resulted in a large format book, an WEBBY AWARD winning iPad app, and a TV special which won the 2014 Boston Film festival Award for Best Cinematography. The book was delivered simultaneously to 10,000 key influencers in 50 countries courtesy of FedEx.

Smolan's publishing projects include "From Alice to Ocean" (1992) and "Passage to Vietnam" (1994), two groundbreaking books which showcased the potential of interactive technology to the book publishing world; "24 Hours in Cyberspace" (1996), a book and online project that created a digital portrait of the Internet in its infancy; "One Digital Day" (1998), which explored the impact of the microprocessor on society; "AMERICA 24/7" (2003), the first mass customized New York Times bestseller and "The Obama Time Capsule" (2008), the first print-on-demand best seller.

Smolan is a frequent speaker at business and technology conferences, including TED, The World Economic Forum at Davos, TEDMED, Techonomy, IdeaCity in Canada, DLD in Germany, and INK in India. More than a million people have watched his "Natasha'a Story" talk on (

Smolan lives in New York City with his wife and business partner, Jennifer Erwitt, and their children, Phoebe and Jesse.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Paul Pierson on December 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book really accomplishes what is quite a difficult task: to find a way to connect the inherently nebulous intellectual concept of big data and connect it to real stories and real examples of how it is impacting our lives.

After reading this, there is no doubt in my mind that Big Data is the defining movement of this generation. It's not just the individual stories, but the collection that brings about this realization. It really makes you see the data angle in so many things around us.

If you are a data scientist, you should feel pretty good about your employability over the next 50 years. And if you're not, it certainly won't hurt to understand this numeric underbelly that exists all around us.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dan on December 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book explores the concept of Big Data from so many interesting perspectives. "Big Data" is a broad term, but Rick Smolan makes it accessible by bringing it down to a personal level.

Through incredible photos and compelling stories, The Human Face of Big Data shows us how data collection, storage and analysis is sparking a quantum leap in human knowledge

From asteroid hunting to farming, to medicine and every area in between, Big Data is affecting almost every area of modern life and the diverse tapestry of stories in this book really show how deep it's influence goes. With essays by experts working in the field, profiles of innovative companies, and engaging personal stories we see how big data is changing our lives right now and will continue change our lives in even more incredible ways in the future.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tom Melcher on December 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was dubious when I heard about this project. As a geek, I knew what "big data" was all about, and have found myself bemused by all of the attention it's been getting lately. I couldn't see how the idea could be translated into a big coffee table book.

Then I got the book, and spent 2 days reading through it. Wow! The pictures were great -- each one seemed to have been hand-crafted to support the story next to it. Those stories were also good: concise, crisp, with just enough detail to let me know whether I wanted to learn more. In several cases I did, using the book as a starting off point to some online surfing and follow up on my own.

As one of the other reviewers pointed out, the book does have a few pages of ads from the main sponsor EMC. So what? I've followed EMC for years, and I still learned a lot about their business from these ads. It's increasingly expensive to do these kinds of books, so I'm happy to put up for with "ad-infographics" if it means the book can be a bit cheaper. Plus, now I have an easier time convincing my wife why I'm so bullish about EMC's stock. :)

Best of all, I now have the PERFECT gift for the other geeks I know. We sit in front of our computer screens all day, and often tend to bore our non-geek friends with stories about what we do. What I like best about this book is that now I have a bunch of really cool stories to pass along to my non-geek friends -- as a geek, I appreciate and "get" the very real computer science underneath; as a cocktail party attendee, I can re-tell very cool stories about why "Big Data" is so important.

Bottom line: Perfect Valentine's gift for the geeks you love.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Daisybell on February 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I am finishing the last few pages of the Big Data book today. I think this is a fantastic book for everyone. People can get a good idea of what is really happening in the world of technology and how our means of collecting data is going to affect everyone's lives. And this in almost every area of life. There is intellect, beauty, knowledge, humor, and true humanity here. The book is easy to read, photographs are great, and the access to TED Talks is a superb feature. This will be an excellent "coffee-table" book.
I learned from the book and plan to reference back to it often. It will help in my field of education as I teach in a number of ways. I have already referred a family to the pages on the DuoFertility Monitor. And... I am now studying Spanish with the little owl on Duolingo! I had a feeling that I had won the best prize when I ended up getting this book at a family "gift exchange". I was right.
I am SO DATA - MINDED now!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Reluctant Badger on June 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The book has introductory info that is well written. But it's just "stuff" a rah-rah book without any balance about the difficulties of drowning in data, and how little of the huge amount is useful data. There is a big difference between data and information and the authors should have had something to say about that. Reading this article, "Finding Paul Revere" will give you more understanding than if you read this whole book. These authors don't really know what they are talking about - not really. It's just some "stuff" produced very, very well. (And yes, I read it. It's a fast read.)

When I came to page 95 about Wikileaks? I was seriously disturbed. This book says that Julian Assange used people like Bradley Manning to collect steal secrets to disclose on his web site. That is just wrong. I'm not a big fan of Assange. I think he's naive. But all those people contacted Julian. They didn't work for him. He didn't "use" them. They were people who decided, out of a sense of conscience, that they thought those things should be disclosed.

That description of Julian Assange is propaganda. It's not truthful at a most basic level. There isn't any grey area about this. Facts are facts. The situation with Assange is exactly the same as the reporter targeted by the DOJ to find out who leaked information inside the CIA. That reporter accepted the leak. That's what reporters do. In fact, there is a quote from the reporter involved - he said exactly that about his role as a reporter - reporters accept voluntary leakers.
You should boycott this book.
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