The term Big Data makes me laugh because we live in the information age where we collect a ton of data. People may be pack rats and hoarders IRL (in real life), but digitally we are far worse. We live in a time when photo albums of weddings, children, family are all digital; the entire music collection is a hard drive failure away from missing; and we fill our hard drives to capacity and beyond (1TB external storage!)
The problem with all this data is search. Google is working on it. But try searching through your Outlook PST file or through your desktop hard drive for a file. Fun, huh? And that is just a fraction of the data compiled by businesses, which is just a fraction of the data that Google and the NSA have. Let that sink in.
Big Data is effecting many fields. In politics, my friend is running a data driven campaign. It's incredible the amount of information available about voters and donors.
My brother was working on a project for cancer research to match up cancer survivor profiles with DNA info and treatment options.
The Human Genome Project is about big data. It's about collecting data, sorting data, finding patterns, and correlating data to those patterns.
Wearable technology is big data. The sensors collect a boatload of data points and an algorithm tries to make sensor of that data for the user. It is the first time that having a Ph.D. in mathematics will make you look cool - that is, after the start-up that hires you gets acquired.
One more example of big data is sports. The real-time statistics for tennis, NFL, baseball, ect. is a big data project. (There is an article in USA Today about technology and tennis.). Fantasy football and baseball is possible because all of those stats that the leagues collect is readily available to fans in a searchable, easy to find way.
The article points out how wearable tech and Bluetooth enabled racquets are changing tennis even for the weekend warrior. The author, Intel CIO Kim Stevenson, concludes a couple of things:
"To be sure, some of this technology may yield data dumps, not real information. Still, the mix of raw data and sports shouldn't be hastily dismissed." [We are early yet.]
"There is a Moore's law underway in analytics: Every year, data-crunching becomes more powerful and less expensive."
"Wearable and mobile technology, combined with the analytic power of the cloud and the connective power of social networks, provides a far more sophisticated approach to understanding competitive performance than watching post-game video or getting helpful coaching tips from the other side of the net. Tennis is proving that technology is more than data: It may be the most powerful performance-improvement tool in sports."
Really the the key to information (or data) is what you do with it.