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What Calvin and Hobbes Can Teach Us About Big Data

Fans of comic strips still fondly remember “Calvin and Hobbes,” the story of a peripatetic 6-year-old and his stuffed (but oh-so-real) tiger. One of my favorite strips shows Calvin digging in his backyard, pulling up “a few dirty rocks, a weird root and some disgusting grubs.” His exclamation to pal Hobbes: “There’s treasure everywhere!”
I’ve found myself thinking more and more about that phrase as I ponder this year of “big data.” Now big data certainly has a lot of promise, and it certainly has been hyped to death. But it’s also — to many of us — pretty scary. Big data requires lots of other big things, including big computer hardware, big staff, big project timelines and big budgets. And for many of us, big data is proving daunting and confusing as well.

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