By Mimi Rojanasakul (Student, Communications Design at Pratt Institute)
The 2011 Strata Conference in New York City kicked off on Thursday with a brief introduction by O’Reilly’s own Ed Dumbill. He ventures a bold assessment of the present social condition and how data science plays into it: the growth of our networks, government, and information feel as if they are slipping out of our control, evolving like a living organism. Dumbill is optimistic, placing the hope to navigate this new “synthetic world” on the emerging role of the data scientist.

The first keynote comes from Rachel Sterne, New York City’s first Chief Digital Officer and a who’s who in the digital media world since her early twenties. Though there was some of the expected bureaucratic language, examples of what was being done with the city’s open data showed very real progress being made in making parts of government more accessible and allowing the public to engage more directly in their community.

New York City is uniquely situated for a project of this nature, and the individual citizens are a key factor — densely packed in and cheerfully tagging, tweeting, and looking for someone to share their thoughts with (or perhaps gripe to).

Through NYC Digital’s app-building competitions, hackathons, and more accessible web presence, New Yorkers are able to compose their own useful narratives or tools — from finding parking to restaurants on the verge of closing from health code violations. By the people and for the people — or at least an encouraging start.

» Read the full post at Information Aesthetics.