Big Data. You have heard the term bandied about in the news more and more frequently. Have you thought about what it means to you? You will be surprised to know it’s all about YOU, probably more than you ever imagined, or wanted.
What is “Big Data“? Wikipedia explains it nicely, “Big data is the term for a collection of data sets so large and complex, that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.
The challenges of Big Data include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis, and visualization”.
Great, but what does all that really mean, and most importantly, what does it mean to each and every one of us on a personal level?
It wants to add your information, probe about you, find out what your likes and dislikes are, it wants to know what kind of toothpaste you use, how often you buy toilet tissue, what gas station you visit and what octane you put in your tank, every minute detail of your life. Even our passports having RFID chips, things like this generate data. Massively large organizations like Google, Twitter, Amazon track what we buy, what we chat and tweet, and email about. Facial recognition scanners at major sporting or political events, the fingerprint scanner on your phone. All of these things collect, generate, or potentially swap and trade bits and bytes about you, your location, and more. Have you checked your address on Google street maps?
Once this information is known, it can be used for targeted advertisements just for you, or anything else your information could be useful to know about.
You become part of a sea of data along with everyone else. Businesses pay big money to other businesses to mine data. You just might be the lucky one if your statistics match what another business is looking for.
All these little 1s and 0s add up. There are three key terms to know when you are talking about Big Data. VOLUME, as there is an immense amount of it. VELOCITY, as it needs to be analyzed quickly. VARIETY, as it constantly generates different types of structured and unstructured data.
For example, Every day, businesses and consumers create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day. 30 Billion pieces of content were added to Facebook in just one month, by over 600 million users. 50 Million Tweets are sent every day.
It isn’t just personal data, or social networking data. Let’s look at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). The LHC experiments produce about 15 petabytes of raw data each year that must be stored, processed, and analyzed.
The amount of data generated, collected, stored, and processed is growing exponentially. Just in social media alone, by 2015, 3 BILLION people will be online, pushing the data created and shared to nearly 8 ZETABYTES. (8 Billion Terabytes).
The purpose of the information in this column is presented simply to make you aware what BIG DATA is. It is up to you to decide whether that’s the good, the bad, or the ugly.