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Rick Smolan        

CEO of Against All Odds Productions, Photographer, Author & Big Data Enthusiast

Rick Smolan is a former Time, Life and National Geographic photographer best known as the creator of the Day in the Life book series – the bestselling photo books that captured life in America, Japan, Australia, the Soviet Union and other countries in the '80s – as well as America 24/7. As CEO of Against All Odds Productions, Smolan's projects focus on capturing the human face of emerging topics and specialize in the design and execution of large-scale crowd-sourced global projects that combine compelling storytelling with state-of-the-art technology. His projects result in bestselling illustrated books, TV specials, Apps, exhibits and hundreds of millions of media impressions.

Smolan’s book From Alice to Ocean is based on a National Geographic cover story that he photographed about Robyn Davidson, a young Australian woman who traveled solo across the Australia outback accompanied only by camels. Her adventure is considered one of the five most memorable stories in National Geographic's 125 year history. Davidson’s narrative of her trip, Tracks, became a classic and bestseller. The book has now been turned into a film by the Oscar Winning producers of The Kings Speech, starring Mia Wasikowska as Davidson and Adam Driver as Smolan. The movie premiered to glowing reviews at the recent Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film festivals and will be released in the U.S. by the Weinstein Brothers in September 2014.

Smolan’s most recent project was The Human Face of Big Data, which looks at how all of our devices are creating a planetary nervous system and that the massive gathering and analyzing of data in real time is suddenly allowing us to address some of humanity’s biggest challenges, including pollution, world hunger and illness. On December 4, 2012, the book was delivered to 10,000 world leaders, Fortune 500 CEOs, heads of media companies, Oscar, Pulitzer Prize and Olympic winners, and other notable figures in 50 countries around the world.

The Human Face of Big Data book was a best seller and to date has sold more than 55,000 copies. The TED book club also chose the book as one of their official selections and sent a copy to all 1700 TED attendees. Last year, the “Human Face” iPad app won the WEBBY for best educational app, Apple featured it on the front page of 42 of its App stores around the world and Adweek awarded it the “Tablet App of the Year.” Additionally, the one hour documentary based on the project recently won The Boston Film Festival’s “Best Cinematography Award.”

Now having spent more than two years immersed in the world of Big Data and speaking with dozens of the scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs pioneering this space, Smolan is convinced Big Data is going to have 1,000 times more of an impact on our lives than the Internet. In his presentations, he seeks to connect and visualize Big Data into meaningful ways where the human race can have an entirely new set of tools to use in shaping the future. From his "Day in the Life" photography series to his current projects, Rick Smolan is a force for exploring culture in unique ways.

Speech Topics

The Human Face of Big Data

Day in the Life


5x5x5: Rick Smolan Of 'The Human Face Of Big Data' Talks About ...
In partnership with the Social Innovation Summit, we're running a series called 5x5x5 -- 5 Leaders, 5 Sectors, 5 Questions. Five guests from a variety of sectors ...
Eight Questions for Rick Smolan About the Human Face of Big Data ...
A defining book that makes a previously nebulous concept understandable.

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