(Data+Media):Humans in the Loop

Speaker Series

New York City is the most creative city in the world. Increasingly, human creativity is enhanced by data-intensive algorithms and technologies. This "human-in-the-loop" process massively accelerates the speed and scale that content is created, delivered, and consumed by automating repetitive and costly tasks, while magnifying human expertise when it is needed.

(Data+Media): Humans in the Loop is a speaker series that focuses on how technology is helping humans both create, consume, and understand creative, artistic, and civic expression across all forms of media. We want to understand two questions:

  • How can we accelerate and empower human contributions by 100-1000x?
  • What are the personal or societal risks and how can they be addressed?

Each event brings together industry and academic experts to share cutting edge technology as well as research and engineering challenges in this area. The goal of these events is to foster and spark collaborations between Columbia researchers and the broader community.


Events are hosted throughout the 2016 fall and 2017 spring semesters.

The first 1-1.5 hours is a series of short talks, panels, or demos, followed by a mixer with refreshments provided.

We invite the wider NYC academic and industry community to attend and participate!

About the Center

This series is hosted by the Center for New Media. The center includes researchers from the fields of Architecture, the Humanities, the Social Sciences, Education, Journalism, Engineering, and Computer Science.

We are part of the Data Science Institute at Columbia University. This event series is co-hosted with the TOW Center for Digital Journalism and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

Civic Oriented Data Nov 17 6-8PM. Brown Institute for Media Innovation

We live in a data-driven world, where effective graphics are key to the delivery of information. When a graphical piece of information is done right, you can’t tell that there is design behind it: Information flows to the viewer clearly and efficiently.

Dona Wong, former graphics director at The Wall Street Journal, will demonstrate:

  1. How to turn data into a compelling, persuasive story
  2. How to use graphics effectively in your presentations
  3. The Dos and Don’ts of information graphics, along with common pitfalls and how to avoid them
  • Wong is the author of "The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics." As the former graphics director at the Journal, she was responsible for setting the graphics standard for all feature and breaking news graphics. Previously, she served as a business graphics editor at The New York Times. Dona is an expert in conceptualizing and producing information graphics that are easily understood by millions of demanding readers on a daily basis. In addition, she has advised Fortune 500 companies and major government agencies on strategic communications. Dona received her M.F.A. in information design from Yale, with thesis advisor Edward Tufte, a pioneer in the field of data visualization.

Upcoming Topics

Branding and Design

Delivering Media

Past Topics

Human-oriented Technology in Data-Intensive Startups Sep 28, 7-9PM. World Room in 3rd floor of Columbia's Pulitzer Hall

Our kick-off event features short talks and a panel with three experts at cutting-edge data intensive startups that are enhancing human expertise in the areas of creative work, analytics, and marketing.

  • Evan Jones

    Software Engineer. BlueCore

    Evan works on data infrastructure for Bluecore, an e-commerce marketing company. He is responsible for ensuring that the service is always running, and can efficiently process and search the information about each web site visitor for partners like Gap, Under Armour and Tommy Hilfiger. Before Bluecore he worked at Twitter, primarily working on geographic data. He previously started his own failed startup (Mitro), and completed a PhD at MIT, researching databases.

  • Adam Marcus

    Co-founder and CTO. B12

    At B12, Adam has led the creation and development of Orchestra, B12’s open source Human-assisted A.I. platform. B12 uses Orchestra to assemble the best teams of expert designers empowered by automation to provide its Intelligent Website product. Previously, he was Director of Data at Locu (acquired by GoDaddy). He recently co-authored a book, “Crowdsourced Data Management: Industry and Academic Perspectives,” as well as a number of peer-reviewed papers on the topic. Prior to Locu, Adam completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at MIT’s CSAIL with a dissertation on database systems and human computation. A recipient of NSF and NDSEG fellowships, Adam has previously volunteered at MEET and worked at ITA, Google, IBM, and FactSet. In his free time, he builds course content to get people excited about data and programming.

  • Justin DeBrabant

    Head of Product. ActionIQ

    While spending his formative years building large distributed systems to support a range of data science and analytics use cases, Justin became passionate in the intersection of data management platforms and users. In particular, he’s excited by the use of fast in-memory analytics to support interactive workflows and visualizations, and joined ActionIQ to make this idea a reality. Justin holds a Ph.D. from Brown University where he researched scaling high-throughput in-memory database systems to support larger-than-memory datasets.

Humans in the Loop in Columbia October 14, 2016 3-5PM in 14th Floor of NW Building

This event showcases researchers across Columbia University that work with, solve, or can benefit from human in the loop technologies. The second half of the event will be a discussion of the grant challenges in human-in-the-loop techonolgies.


  • Mark Hansen journalism
  • Alex Gil digital libraries
  • Elisabeth Gawthrop international research institute for climate and society libraries
  • Kathleen Mckeown cs
  • Dennis Tenen english
  • Juan Saldarriaga architecture