The Quantum Graph

Tag: data

Dear Sir: Plea$e give us ¥our Mon€y

Yesterday I tracked down mining tycoon Rob McEwen. He infamously turned Goldcorp, a relatively small Canadian gold mining company into the world’s second largest — from $50 million to $10 billion market cap. Rob spoke at a Scotiabank mining conference at the King Edward hotel in Toronto. After unsuccessfully trying to haggle my way into the non-public conference ballroom, I sat in a stately lobby with fat Greek columns next to a giant Christmas tree and waited for him to come out. Recognizing his face from a Bloomberg interview, I noticed and followed him upstairs to the mezzanine. I approached Mr. McEwen at the snack table and got my introduction in before the nice gatekeeper lady who denied me earlier came to shoo me away. Luckily he’s a cool guy; we went back down to the lobby and sat near the pine tree to discuss a mixture of medicine and technology.

McEwen is familiar with what can come of good data and good software. In 2006 Canadian Business magazine named him the ‘Most Innovative CEO’. He’s also an investor, and as Noo Corp is seeking investment, I thought it wise to pitch him.

Athabasca tar sands, Alberta

Harvesting natural resources is probably an older profession than prostitution. It’s the backbone of any given civilization – famous or forgotten. When supplies collapse, so do empires. In recent times, as the Earth’s population has exploded, demand for things like copper or cadmium has increased dramatically. As a result, natural resource extraction has gained a well-deserved reputation as being downright dirty [July ’13 edit: it is truly ugly]. Yet with companies like Planetary Resources looking to the heavens as the next great frontier for the elements we use, it seems fair to say that our appetite for raw stuff is insatiable.

As a side note, before the San Francisco / Bay Area became Silicon Valley, it was the site of a great mining rush, as pointed out in this fascinating talk (thanks Pete).

Back to the story, McEwen’s insight was that the mining industry is mostly aloof regarding its use of data. This was a light bulb moment: noospheer has finally found its niche. Unifying the entirety of a given mining corporation’s data — both geospatial and logistical — implies an increase in efficiency. Overlaying this with open data on a given parcel of land from the wider network implies an increase in awareness. Efficiency and awareness in this context means less environmental impact. By integrating multiple data fields gathered from increasingly non-invasive exploration technologies, we can get more out of this planet while scarring her surface less. In the future, we should one day be able to teleport gold right from within the Earth’s crust.

Noospheer’s vertical is the natural resource mining industry as its a mess, and its data is too. Clean up the data, clean up the world. We’ve now met and spoken with numerous mining software companies for feedback, raw test data for piloting the system, and agreement to run the beta once ready.

Was Noo Corp successful with the ask? I’ll let you know.   ~Jordan

[July ’13: not yet]


System Map

Last week was the Free Software and Open Source Symposium 2012, hosted and organized by Seneca @ York + CDOT. In the spirit of openness, here is a bird’s eye view of noospheer’s components. (Click for full size)

Graph generated with yED

Breakdown ‘The system’ is designed as an open source solution stack, intended to put to rest 4 important problems in computer science:

  1. Integration ~ merging data from many disparate sources, while retaining the integrity of each original source.
  2. Distribution ~ efficiently spreading this federated set of information across a potentially infinite number of web-enabled devices.
  3. Privacy ~ using emulated quantum cryptographic schemes to provide data security better than the current state of the art.
  4. Visualization ~ making intuitive sense, in-browser, out of complex data; so all users can ask advanced questions and get insightful answers [note: we further intend to make the network fully accessible to those with special needs].

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Data Sources

Application Programming Interface (API)




Small Data

Big data is big buzz these days. Essentially, there’s a lot of data out there and its a massive, attic-style mess — crap is strewn all over the place!

Companies in this space love to talk about peta, exa, zetta or yottabytes (1 petabyte = 1 million gigs). Yet the entirety of Wikipedia English is ~200gb. Seemingly forgotten in the big data world is the process of normalization, where a data set is compressed without losing the information’s fidelity.

With some simple record deduplication, combined with a generic spatial schema that works with tabular and graph data, noospheer will make big data a lot smaller — thus permitting far greater informational diversity and complexity than currently achieved.

You can download wiki here.

The Raw Data Market

One of the key dilemmas noospheer has faced as a startup is coming up with a fair, sustainable and scaling revenue model. Licensing fees don’t work because we’re open source + we simply don’t want to charge. Advertising doesn’t work because ads take up valuable pixels. Our model should be uniquely enabled by open technology.

Recently, when describing the project to a friend who works in private equity, she nonchalantly formed the basis of a new model. Until now noospheer has focused on the black and white: private data and public data. Users (individuals and organizations) can either keep data closed or open access. But what about users such as corporations with high-value proprietary information? Realism says company X with data set Y will simply keep Y under lock and key. But as corporations are organisms of profit, perhaps if X could sell Y for Z, they would be willing to do so.

Gartner says the business intelligence market is huge and growing. The average 20 page market research package runs for around $5,000. That comes with a few tables in a pdf – not reams of structured, visualized data. Simply, noospheer is free to access, download + host, share, extend and modify. But if one decides to charge for access to information through the network, we’ll take a cut: 3%.

As highlighted in the previous post, noospheer is an open data platform. Once the system is online, users are encouraged to their spread data – especially scholarly data – free of charge. Yet as the world is primarily dictated by large, proprietary-paradigm institutions, we play the corporate game and provide an option to charge for data set access. Should the market incorporate the noospheer model, it can fiscally enable our company (Noo Corp) as an open force for change… Stay tuned.