13 Comments

Summary:

Big data is on the tip of everyone’s tongues these days as more information is contributed to electronic records and more sources provide that information. We now have a river of data that we’re going to harness and use to make money and better decisions.

Big data is certainly on the tip of everyone’s tongues these days as both the amount of data entered online expands and the ways to track objects and people grows with wireless connectivity and sensors. We have both more information being entered and more sources of that information, providing a river of data that somehow we’re going to capture and use to make money and better decisions.

For those wondering about the big picture and some of the nitty-gritty details (metadata, data visualization, open document formats) The Economist has a killer package on big data. Download it at the web site, or wander out and get your own copy of the magazine. I was intrigued by the idea that the “it” career in a data driven world was statistician.

Writing about the concept of big data is kind of like trying to write about water. Water is essential, touches so many aspects of life — from evolution to the current location of cities — that one article, one book or even one field of study can’t articulate its influences. Data will be the same way in the not-t00-distant future, thanks to cheap, scalable computing and ubiquitous broadband enabling a connected everything.

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  1. Scott Hoffman Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Stacey – great find! The economist report is fantastic

  2. A few observations:

    Nature does not do statistics:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/02/explaining-biodiversity/

    ‘all models are wrong, some are useful’, George Box

    ‘Beware of geeks bearing formulas’, Warren Buffet

  3. Feels like there is a tremendous opportunity out there for the intersection of: IT skills, data analysis/Statistics, and visual presentation technology.

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  5. Sanjay Maharaj Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Data has always been there but we have had to look for it at different places [libraries, archives, government offices, books, journals e.t.c.] which was a time consuming exercise. All that has happened now is that all the data are now being transferred to a central location called the web which we can shift and search through the medium called Google.

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  10. Krishnan Parasuraman Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Yup, statistics will be the “it” career in a data driven world. Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist calls it the “sexy” job of the upcoming decade (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4FQsYTbLoI)
    The challenges with data and its massive growth have been around for a while now. On an average statisticians spend up to 80% of their time in the trenches cleaning and integrating data. For most individuals that is not an aspirational career.
    However, with the emergence of BigData as a formal discipline and accompanying technological innovation, we can now provide statisticians with the tools that allow them to analyze massive amounts of data very quickly without the mundane chores. This gives them the unique capability to predict outcomes in a timely manner and potentially steer the course of a business – now thats really “sexy”

    1. Krishnan, I think you’ve touched upon something there. The emergence of BigData is great, but it’s the tools one uses to analyze the data to draw from it new stats, facts, trends. BigData creates just a much bigger picture than we once had, but is only as good as your tools!

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