Big data is an umbrella term. It encompasses everything from digital data to health data (including your DNA and genome) to the data collected from years and years of paperwork issued and filed by the government. And that’s just what it officially covers.
Like a Russian nesting doll, big data also houses legitimate ideas and terms that use big data as a source of information, but differentiate from it based on segmentation. The most popular of these nesting terms, if you will, are smart data, identity data and people data.
As of yet, you won’t find an easy Wikipedia page explanation for any of these ideas. Instead, you’ll see them thrown out on Twitter, within the copy on start-up websites and debated by executives — many of whom have yet to fully understand who needs big data, what kind, when and why.
And the confusion is legitimate. Few fully understand what big data is, much less what the term’s offshoots entail. But big data is evolving and smart data, identity data and people data are here to stay. Think of them as the human discovery of fire, the wheel and wheat. Just as those inventions couldn’t have occurred without humans, these subset terms couldn’t exist without big data.
Of course, the human race wouldn’t be where it is today without those three key finds, and these data segments will prove to do the same for big data — making it comprehensible for the masses.
Are these definitions all-inclusive? No, but they will help you to wrap your head around the terms that will influence digital media careers and online experiences for years to come.