With all the huge changes assaulting us every day — cloud and social computing services like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, mobile computing, cyber bullying, NSA spying and the erosion of privacy, etc. — for most people Big Data may seem like something for the data geeks. That is a mistake. Big Data sits at the center of all the technology-driven forces smashing into all our business and personal lives. More than any of these, Big Data will drive the changes that will push us all, like it or not, into a new century that will be as different from what we have known as the 20th Century was from the 19th.
Big Data impacts all of us in many ways. On a personal level, if you are concerned about the NSA revelations or about how companies ranging from Facebook and Google to your grocery store and bank are using your personal information, that’s Big Data. And you should be concerned about those things. While most Americans today are conscious of the NSA, few realize that numerous private businesses are also gathering huge amounts of data on every one of us. That includes financial data but also personal data coming off social media sites. Our cellular carriers are tracking where we go through the GPS units in our phones and may sell that data to third party businesses, for instance.