Wetting Our Toes In The Big Data Sea
World population has reached 7 billion, and as of the middle of 2012, it is estimated that worldwide there are 2.4 billion Internet users, more than a third of the Earth’s population.
As universal as the Internet has become, it is perhaps not a completely understood thing. Perhaps it can be thought of as the logical extension of the Neolithic cave paintings.
In the history of media, the Internet is not only the simplest means to disseminate large amounts of information, but it is really the first time that there is a truly practical way for the recipients of the information to participate in the conversation. In Radio and Television, the only practical feedback a the audience could give was to turn the channel on undesirable programing. The Internet encourages audience participation to not only create feedback, but to contribute content.
Data and More Data
This has led to an explosion in the amount of data, not just on the Internet, but anywhere there is an electronic input, your water meter, the cash register at the corner store, every time your use the GPS Navigation system in your car. Sooner or later, all of that data will wind up on the Internet.
According to IBM, everyday 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created, so much that 90% of the data in the world was created in the last two years. This is Big Data. By definition, Big Data is any data set that is so large that traditional data management tools are inadequate to handle it.
What Big Data Means and Will Mean
The implications of Big Data are just beginning to be understood. They will be felt across business, politics, science, and even social interaction.
Some of most immediate effects of Big Data are felt in business. Every hour 50 million filing cabinets worth of customer information is collected at the check-out counters of Wal-Mart Stores, approximately 167 times all the information contained in all the books in the Library of Congress. The true value of Big Data will probably be seen in predicting business trends. Amazon CEO Werner Vogels recently pointed out that when mistakes are made in his organization, it is usually because there is insufficient data to back up a suggestion or idea.
We are standing on the shores of a sea of unlimited potential. There are uncharted reefs in that sea as well. There is not time to cautiously dampen our toes, our ship is sailing into the Sea of Big Data. The choice to remain on the shore is beyond us, but as we sail, we can choose whether we are hidden below decks in steerage or on deck, basking in the sunshine.
By Peter Knight
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