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An Emerging Era of Big Data (in Mental Health too)

We just came accross an excel­lent arti­cle by Dr. Thomas Insel, Direc­tor of the National Insti­tute for Men­tal Health (NIMH), titled An Emerg­ing Era of Big Data. The arti­cle is brief and worth read­ing. Here are two quotes:

- “Every era has its tech­no­log­i­cal icons. In the early 20th cen­tury, it was the air­plane and the auto­mo­bile. In the mid-20th cen­tury, it was the tele­vi­sion and the tele­phone. Now in the early 21st cen­tury, the smart phone and social net­work­ing appear to be the defin­ing tech­nolo­gies. And increas­ingly, the cur­rent era is begin­ning to look like the era of “big data” — a term that refers to the explo­sion of avail­able infor­ma­tion, a byprod­uct of the dig­i­tal revolution.”

- “The men­tal health com­mu­nity has been slower to join this rev­o­lu­tion, but this could change. It just requires a pas­sion to share infor­ma­tion, a capac­ity to develop data repos­i­to­ries, and a vision for turn­ing indi­vid­ual data into col­lec­tive knowl­edge. We have some unique chal­lenges in the men­tal health com­mu­nity: lack of a cen­tral orga­ni­za­tion, incon­sis­tent qual­ity of infor­ma­tion, and in some cases, a denial of ill­ness. But — as we are see­ing in areas as diverse as robot­ics and base­ball — big data has a way of over­com­ing big chal­lenges. In fact, big data may be the solu­tion for a field that has been lack­ing in met­rics of per­for­mance or success.”

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