Week 15: Big Data

The assumption of course is that Big Data contains undiscovered
beneficial knowledge that is impossible to obtain by any previously
available means. It attempts to collect funding for Big Data projects,
funding which presumably has to be newly appropriated for this task,
on the belief that it will yield answers that not only will justify
the funds, but could lead to a reduction in the cost of operations.

In this regard Big Data is very much like the older buzzword of of
'computerizing' something. That by putting operations into the
computer there will be benefits both in efficiency and cost savings to
justify the new expense. (In actuality, the benefits of
'computerizing' operations is to allow changes in operations that
would never have been approved except for the fact that the computer
has different requirements for data entry than people; allowing the
system to change despite entrenched social beliefs as to how things
should be done.)

The use of 'Big Data' will thus be seized upon as a means of obtaining
funding which isn't available otherwise. Because it is a technical
methodology, it bypasses criticisms that it involves paying for human
judgement. It's the computer that will make the discoveries, not human
beings; therefore the discoveries will be objective and not subjective.

Big Data is at this point being proposed blindly as offering solutions
when in most cases it is only offering a research project. To offer
solutions it would have to be the case that similar Big Data projects
in the same field can be shown to have provided benefits.

This will invariably lead to the next stage of Big Data failures, when
the funders realize that there aren't financial benefits to some Big
Data applications. Big Data tasks will then be separated into those
that have worked and those that haven't worked. When it is realized
that what was being funded was 'research' into the utility of Big Data
for a given task.

And the cycle will advance to the next buzzword.

Now, I should also note that there WILL be Big Data successes. One
cannot discount every application of a new methodology—it is just
that funders should be aware that they are in many cases being asked
to fund research not development. I like research. It is fun and leads
to new discoveries. Just don't confuse 'research' with operational
improvements. You can't guarantee research will save money. Buggy whip
manufacturers couldn't have saved their industry by using better data
analysis of their customer's purchases… if anything they would have
realized they should cease manufacturing sooner.

Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2012 18:54:03 -0500
From: ude.saxetu.sc|relsma#ude.saxetu.sc|relsma
Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.241 buying a bill of goods

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