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Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

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  • Posted March 11, 2013

    *A full executive summary of this book will be available at newb

    *A full executive summary of this book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Monday, March 18, 2013.

    The main argument: Statistical information, or data, has long been recognized to be a potentially rich and valuable source of knowledge. Until recently, however, our ability to render phenomena and events in a quantified format, store this information, and analyze it has been severely limited. With the rise of the digital age, though, these limitations are quickly being eroded. To begin with, digital devices that record our movements and communications, and digital sensors that record the behavior of inanimate objects and systems have become widespread and are proliferating wildly. What's more, the cost of storing this information on computer servers is getting cheaper and cheaper, thus allowing us to store much more of it than ever before. Finally, increasingly sophisticated computer algorithms are allowing us to analyze this information more deeply than ever, and are revealing interesting (and often counter-intuitive) relationships that would never have been possible previously. The increasing datification of the world, and the insights that this is bringing us, may be thought of as one grand phenomenon, and it has a name: Big Data.

    The insights that are emerging out of Big Data are spread out over many areas, and are already affecting several aspects of society. For example, Big Data is allowing established businesses to be run more efficiently and safely, and as is also allowing for new business opportunities that were never possible before. Meanwhile, Big Data is being used by governments to help reduce costs and make society safer.

    While Big Data may already be bringing us impressive benefits, Mayer-Schonberger and Cukier argue that the bulk of the benefits are yet to come. Indeed, for the authors, businesses and governments are only just now waking up to the incredible potential of Big Data. And as they direct more attention to recording and analyzing data streams, the potential uses of the information will only multiply.

    On the negative side, while Big Data may have enormous potential benefits, it also carries substantial potential dangers. Most notably, as more and more information about us is recorded, kept and used, our privacy is increasingly threatened. For the authors, a good deal of oversight will be needed in order to ensure that the potential abuses of Big Data are curbed.

    The book is well written and represents a fine overview of the present and future of Big Data. Also, the authors do well to raise important big-picture issues related to the phenomena, though the potential impacts (both positive and negative) are occasionally overblown. All in all the book is a good introduction to an important and interesting topic. A full executive summary of the book will be available at newbooksinbrief dot com, on or before Monday, March 18; a podcast discussion of the book will be available shortly thereafter.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    For the reader that has heard about "big data" and wan

    For the reader that has heard about "big data" and wants an easy read, I would recommend this book. I found it helpful in providing a well rounded
    description of what big data is, the positives and negatives of big data, and especially liked the historical examples. It was fascinating to this reader, again to learn that all that separate our distant ancestors with today's society is the level of technology we rely on. Their out of the box reflection is still enduring today, just as innovative, just working within a more primative environment.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    Timely intro to big data, and the way it aids and invades our lives.

    This book is a high-altitude view of big data, and has many interesting examples. Most people will find something surprising here, and it will certainly make you think about the many ways our culture and style of living encourages big data, and its collection and use. Part of the book discusses using heaps of anonymous data to discern public trends. It also discusses using personally identifiable data to make assumptions about individuals. This is a very non-technical book; there is nothing about how data analytics works or what an analyst does. For me, these topics could have replaced some of the repetitive examples. The difficult issues of ethics, privacy, legality, and security of big data are only lightly considered. The gist of the book is America-centric, and doesn't go into issues that might arise globally. Overall, it's a good read and a good way to get you thinking about the many aspects of big data.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2013


    An email sent from B & N is a perfect example of Big Data. Welcome to the technological world we're racing into. As a culture, we've been trying to collect data for decades, if not longer, but now figuring out how to use so much of it to our advantage...and come to a point were we can collect much more of it and save it so cheaply. The data from my activity on this site, anywhere on the internet plus some is being saved. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but get used to it. We're now in a time where data/knowledge is an asset to be put on the books. As far as this read, the book is all technical, historical, & theoretical rolled into one. I've enjoyed it, and would recomend it to anyone to get an idea of where things are heading. If anything, use the information given as model by which to view the world in context. Take it or leave it...whether you think you are being spied upon, or just seen as a discrete number/address are your own feelings...but all in all it seems like there's a much richer knowledge of our society in general to be gained over time with all this data in hand.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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