I wanted to take a few minutes and share some quick comments I have on a presentation that Kate Crawford, a researcher at Microsoft Research, presented at the Data Edge (http://dataedge.ischool.berkeley.edu/2013/) Conference last week: “Six myths of Big Data.” While I tend to agree with most of Ms. Crawford’s points, I believe two of the myths are open to debate at some level…
Myth 1- Big Data is New
Agree. As Ms. Crawford states the scale and prevalence of Big Data is reaching us in new ways. Big Data is only at the beginning climb of the hype cycle. With the way that the internet and social media are today as well as large organizations amassing data in great amounts, Big Data is here to stay. So, yes, Big Data has been around for some time and is only going to grow exponentially.
Perhaps one of the most important take-aways is that there are “…two prominent issues today in Big Data, display and insight […have] been around for awhile.” GisterPRO is a tool that helps solve these perennial challenges.
Myth 2- Big Data is Objective
Disagree…Big Data is objective. I think she really wants to say that the complexion or sources for a given dataset may or may not accurately describe a population as in the cited Hurricane Sandy biasing example. Thus, the person analyzing the data needs to be experienced and savvy enough to pose basic statistical questions around data capture/composition & thus validity.
Myth 3- Big Data Doesn’t Discriminate
Disagree. The people using Big Data may not be, however, be discriminating. Reporting truth is not discriminating. Correlations will be made, whether we like them or not.
Myth 4- Big Data Makes Cities Smart
Agree. I would go further to suggest that Big Data making cities smart will lead to an individual being more vulnerable to Orwellian-type abuse.
Myth 5- Big Data is Anonymous
Agree. Unforeseen correlations have repeatedly proven to lift the veil of privacy in a myriad of ways. Look out!
Myth 6- You Can Opt Out
Agree….kinda of. Think of it this way. If something is free (Google search or Yahoo mail to name just two of many examples), you are the product; you pay by giving up your privacy so they can sell stuff to you. There are options for opting out. Fodder for future posts…