Lost amidst the frenzy of media coverage over the past few months about government monitoring of personal data were revelations about the transformative effect of Big Data on the election of Barrack Obama in 2012. A secret effort was established by the campaign involving dozens of young experts in analytics and behavioral science working up to 16 hours a day in a windowless room called “the cave” at the Obama headquarters in Chicago.
What exactly is Big Data? One definition casts it as a vast amount of data for which the challenge is our ability to analyze and utilize it. It relates to information about us and about the world around us.
The Obama campaign gathered enough data to profile the 15 million Americans who were likely to swing the election one way or another – to understand their interests, to reach out to them and to engage them. According to some, this effort single-handedly determined the direction of America for the next four years.