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Big Data is...

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What do you get when you type “big data is” into Google Live Search? An interesting view into what people think about the term!


Big data is…

-Like teenage s*x

-Is bull****

-Is the future

-Is dead

-Is watching you



Here’s a quick run down of some of the entries:


Big Data is Like Teenage S*x


This saying is usually attributed to Dan Ariely of MIT, who posted the following on Facebook:

Big data is like teenage s*x: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it….

The saying has been around for a few years, so the chances of that teenager actually doing what they say they’ve been doing have been rising steadily! More and more large organizations are indeed “really” doing Big Data – depending on how you define it. And that brings us to the next term…


Big Data Is Bull****


The Global Language Monitor site has labeled big data the Top Tech Buzzword That Everybody Uses But Do Not Quite Understand and a lot of people hate the term. Among other things, critics point out that “big data” has been around for a long, long time. The most common “3Vs” definition of big data was created by analyst Doug Laney in 2001:

Big data is high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.


Big Data is The Future


There are lots of different definitions of big data to disagree with but one thing seems clear; there has been a big increase in our ability to store and analyze data with new technologies such as Hadoop and other “NoSQL” databases, and fast in-memory processing.

If you’re interested in futuristic examples of how people are using big data today, Rick Smolan’s book “The Human Face of Big Data” is a great place to start.


Big Data is Watching You


Rampant “datification” means that our every activity is being tracked by somebody, somewhere.

Our mobile phone and credit card transactions can give a scarily-detailed view into how we spend our daily lives. RFID chips in our passports, bank cards, and clothes can be automatically read as soon we get close enough to a sensor. Our cars are recording our speed and other data, ready to be used in the event of a crash (and European security experts are mulling the installation of mandatory “kill switches” that could stop cars at a distance). Cameras and face-recognition software track us as we walk down the street. Networked home appliances, or smart meters with smart algorithms, can get a real-time view of who is home at any moment, and what their activity is (the “signature” of a kettle, washing machine, computer, etc. are very different.)


Big data is an incredibly powerful weapon!


If you would like to know more about Big Data feel free to drop either Natacha ( / T: @natachapomorski) or myself ( / T: @yasmin_pearce) an email or tweet #bigdata.


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