Nine Types of Data and How They Should Be Used

You are not feeling well, so you visit your friendly family doctor. He puts you in a new electronic scanner and generates 28 trillion measurements of your temperature all over the surface of your body. He then saves all of these measurements and, using advanced statistical algorithms and supercomputers, announces that your temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. What a relief! Big Data to the rescue.

As the Big Data bandwagon picks up momentum, consultants, professors, conference organizers, authors, magazines, blogs, software firms, pundits, crooks, private equity firms, and computer hardware manufacturers are clamoring to get aboard. Rarely has a bandwagon attracted so much attention or so many passengers.

The basic premises of Big Data appear to be the following:

1. More data are always better than less data. 2. Volume, variety, and velocity of data create new sources of potential knowledge and prescience. 3. With Big Data, all questions can be answered: The “why” will finally be revealed to the human race, and the future can be accurately predicted.

Is Big Data an accurate picture of the future, or is it simply a mirage shimmering in the distant desert heat? Is it the pathway to ultimate truth, or is it only a bandwagon of exaggerated promises and illusory dreams?

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