Data News: Week in Review

Personal genomics, education data, and a new version of Hadoop

Here are a few of the data stories that caught my eye this week.

Your personal data analyzed (at a genetic level)

23andMePersonal genomics company 23andMe made its DNA test available for free (sort of) on Tuesday of this week. Want to know if you have the genetic markers that may predispose you to heart disease, alcoholism, or breast cancer? A free test is hard to pass up.

This up-close look at your personal cellular data does come with certain strings attached: you have to sign up for 23andMe’s $9-a-month Personal Genome Service. That brings the total cost to more than $100 a year.

Nevertheless, this latest push is another win for 23andMe, a Silicon Valley startup that is offering DNA analysis as a retail product, not simply a medical service. That’s an important distinction. The move by 23andMe to give this data to “consumers” — and not just “patients” — signals a shift in the way we think about our medical information and our personal, chromosomal data. It also raises some big questions: Does this mean our genomic data has become a commodity? And if so, how much do we control the access, sale, and potential profit?

Hacking education with data

DonorsChooseAccording to a recent Brookings Institution survey, Americans want more data about their local schools. But despite the best efforts of open data projects, that information is still quite limited: census data, test scores, and the like.

The situation could improve with the announcement that the education non-profit DonorsChoose is opening its data to developers for a Hacking Education contest. DonorsChoose, which acts as a Kickstarter of sorts for education, gives teachers a platform to pitch their projects and their classroom needs. Some 165,000 teachers in more than 43,000 public schools have submitted 300,000-plus projects, and in turn have inspired around $80 million in charitable giving.

All that data — the types of projects, the amount of funding, the resources requests, the types of schools, donors’ search strings, donors’ financial commitment — is being made available via the DonorsChoose contest. In addition to analysis of the data, the non-profit is also seeking developers to build apps based on its API.

The grand prize? A trophy. But it’s awarded by Stephen Colbert and includes tickets for you and three friends to see a taping of “The Colbert Report.”

Cloudera releases a new version of Hadoop

ClouderaCloudera, one of the primary contributors to Apache Hadoop, has released a new version of its Hadoop distribution this week. Version 3 (CDH3) contains more than 1,000 patches and changes, many of which will be contributed back to the open source Hadoop project.

While Hadoop’s big data management is free and open source, Cloudera makes its money selling enterprise support. Much of the coverage of this latest version focused on Cloudera’s position as the leader in this space. <a href="http://gigaom.com/cloud/why-cloud

era-isnt-sweating-the-hadoop-competition/”>GigaOm’s Derrick Harris says that:

CDH3 is a big reason that, despite a recent spate of Hadoop-based big data products either on the market or about to be there, Cloudera says it isn’t sweating all the new competition. Another is that Cloudera doesn’t think competitive vendors have what it takes to cut into Cloudera’s business.

Got data news?

Suggestions and stories are always welcome, so feel free to contact me with ideas.

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