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Big Data, Big Dead End

Very interesting persepective on the data economy from CTRL-SHIFT NEWS:

‘Big Data’ seems well on its way to becoming the next big bandwagon. However, in the scheme of things I think it’s more like a Big Dead End.

Before saying why, let me first recognise where and how ‘Big Data’ is important.

Our society is transitioning from an ‘old normal’ of information scarcity to a ‘new normal’ where massive new data sets continue to come on stream. Just think of the volumes of data now being created in payments (the shift from cash to plastic to contactless and mobile payments systems), mobile (location data), online (search, click streams and the like), and even travel: just think how much data Oyster is collecting about Londoners’ travel activities.

Clearly, there’s tremendous value in mining these vast new data sets to identify trends and patterns, and in crunching different data sets together to find even more trends and patterns. All great stuff. No question.

So why claim that Big Data is actually a Big Dead End?

First, we need to beware the hype. To take just one example, Big Data does not mean that now “anything can be predicted”. Yet that’s what one breathless book – Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres – claimed a few years ago. That sort of hype really isn’t helpful.

More important, Big Data is actually just a case of ‘more of the same’. It fails to address the really big information challenges (and opportunities) that we now face. Let’s unpick this a little. Read more…

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