Steamrolled by Big Data

— The New Yorker

Five years ago, few people had heard the phrase “Big Data.” Now, it’s hard to go an hour without seeing it. In the past several months, the industry has been mentioned in dozens of New York Times stories, in every section from metro to business. (Wired has even already declared it passé: “STOP HYPING BIG DATA AND START PAYING ATTENTION TO ‘LONG DATA’.”) At least one corporation, the business-analytics firm SAS, has a Vice-President of Big Data. Meanwhile, nobody seems quite sure exactly what the phrase means, beyond a general impression of the storage and analysis of unfathomable amounts of information, but we are assured, over and over, that it’s going to be big. Last summer, Jon Kleinberg, a computer scientist at Cornell, said in the Times that “The term itself is vague, but it is getting at something that is real… Big Data is a tagline for a process that has the potential to transform everything.”

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