The name may sound intimidating but when you break it down, it's all about social media. The researchers say the project will uncover ways to organize and analyze the vast amount of information that's generated through our social media interactions.
"Exciting and it's a little bit nerve-wracking because we can't tell our students and we can't go ourselves to the textbook because that textbook hasn't been written yet," says Brian Lowe, 'Big Data Project' director at SUNY Oneonta.
Lowe says the research team is trying to create a new generation of scientists.
"From hydro-fracturing to illegal immigration to U.S. Foreign policy toward Israel, what we're doing right now is developing a method to evaluate that huge pile of data that's sitting out there," says Brett Heindl, 'Big Data Project' investigator at SUNY Oneonta.
"This is all all around us; If you use social media, and you're trying to figure out what this all means. That's what we're trying to get at," says Lowe.
So where does Penn State come in?
"Penn State has the resources of a very large research institution which means they have tools and resources that we just don't have," says Heindl.
And the Penn State research team has already begun developing a new curriculum in social data that they'll exchange with Oneonta.
"Share data, share tools, some of our graduate students are going to go up and help teach undergraduates there how to do the technical part so they can do the social science part," says Burt Monroe, 'Big Data Project' director at Penn State.
And together, the two universities say the big data possibilities are endless.
"We find new things just from scratching the surface so we're very excited about the potential of changing the nature of social science," says Monroe.
The Oneonta researchers say they're still in the preliminary phase of the "Big Data Project." But their goal is to establish a Big Data Social Media Laboratory in 2014.