Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Big Data -- Does not Lie


I feel compelled to respond to this article on Huffingpost.com. The author seems to have the right credentials but her so called arguments (even if you can call it that) are so superfluous and cheesy that I cannot be but dejected by her lack of understanding of big data

She states "Take a very simplified example from the media industry: you run a banner ad for an online sofa company on The Telegraph home page every Monday for four weeks. The first two weeks you make 40 sales, followed by 20 sales on the second two weeks. If we had predicted the outcome after two weeks, we would of course have come to the wrong conclusion. While this example is clearly unrealistic, it illustrates the point that you cannot necessarily predict people's behaviour according to how they have behaved in the past, which is what Big Data asks us to do."

Big data does not ask you to do anything. It just provides you with facts that have occurred in your data stream in the past. It is up to the user to interpret them in the best way possible. Lack of skills in applying results from big data cannot be attributed to failings of big data in any way.  I like the metaphor that big data is a dictionary and thesaurus rolled into one, but definitely not a dictum or universal truth or even a paper back novel. A bad example incorrectly used by the author is no way to prove that big data lies.