For those of you who know me well, you know I am not entirely allergic to buzzwords. The beginning of my career was spent in an industry entirely created off the prevalence of buzzwords and the ability to try to integrate them into colloquial dialogue. At points, I will admit that I have been the worst offender. That doesn’t make it right though. Either way – a recent buzzword (read: trend) I have seen start to show itself more than ever is “big data”. What does that even mean? Sure, on the surface, it’s easy to conceptualize the fact that we are creating “data” at a rate exponentially greater than any point in history. But beyond that, how have we just come to accept that some term like “big data” is the “next big thing”? To me, it seems as though a lot of people are asleep at the wheel waiting for someone else to make sense of it all. I’m obviously a huge proponent of algorithms, analysis, and a properly researched-function. Chasing this unicorn called “big data” though, is a bit of a stretch for me.Here’s why I’m worried about “big data”:
- Most data is not static and hence running analyses on data at any given point in time is nearly useless by the time it is prepared for actual use or consumption (times are always changing)
- There has not been a large enough focus on creating sound hypotheses and developing use cases for targeted research into data
- People have adapted the tendency of blindly choosing disparate systems and independent data sources to tie together, rendering original hypotheses void in many cases (if those hypotheses even exist)
- Critical assumptions are often made in order to allow the data to tie more appropriately, and those shortcuts are often unfounded or improper in my estimation
- Data scientists are at least a little bit “out there” by nature (Have you met any of them? They’re a tad “out there”, no?) which leads to a lot of spinning wheels
Think about it: does the fact that I sometimes wear Allen Edmonds shoes really make me any more prone to like Jennifer Aniston movies and long walks on the beach? Maybe it does (actually, in this case, it really might – so what?). Maybe I’m wrong. I do love the fact that Amazon can tie my recent order history to things that other people have purchased (and, in other cases, remind me when it’s time to buy some more cheap-o burner sunglasses for the pool). But that’s not as much an exercise in “big data” as much as it is targeted correlation of individual purchase history habits.
Who knows – either way, I’m not going to kill the “big data” movement. I just wish people would be a little more serious about what it all means and how we could best try to target real solutions with it.
Til Next Time,