There was a day when miners physically blasted, dug and drilled in search of treasures like gold, silver and oil. Today’s most profitable miners are statisticians and mathematicians searching for veins of meaningful information from within mountains of data.
How do you feel about that?
Adam Frank of NPR in his article Big Data is the Steam Engine of our Time, writes,
“Ultimately, the promise of Big Data is the ability to understand (and control) a seemingly chaotic world on levels never before imagined. The dangers of Big Data stem from that very same promise. It’s impact on society will be akin to the transformative effect of past technological revolutions.”
I agree. However, I suspect that the promise of big data mining that will prevail is big profit.
And you and I are the commodities being traded.
Every swipe of a credit card, Google search, on-line purchase, status update or “like” on Facebook, or click on an ad is another data point in the mountain range of data. It’s a little spooky, and I suspect it will only escalate.
So, how should we respond to this latest technological revolution, this massive paradigm shift?
First we must educate ourselves on it, so I encourage you to click on the following links for a brief education.
Monday’s Wall Street Journal contained a fascinating report on Big Data, its game-changing potential, demand for skilled “data scientists,” common mistakes in this new paradigm, some sources of public data, and a guide to Facebook’s privacy features.
According to Graeme Noseworthy (a blogger at IBM’s Big Data Hub), Ginni Rometti, CEO of IBM, foresees that big data will mean that predictive analytics will govern decisions rather than subjective perceptions, “the social network is the new production line,” and that marketing will no longer target segments or demographic groups, but individuals.
Speaking of social networks, did you know that an analysis of what you “like” on Facebook can be used to predict and profile individual characteristics and behavior?
After my own brief education, I have three thoughts:
1) Practically speaking, if you have an interest in and an aptitude for statistics, go get educated in data analysis. There will be good jobs for you!
2) Remember that your “likes” on Facebook, personal data that you provide when you use an ap or play a game, your social media and other online activity is available for data mining. If you’re not paying for an on-line product or service, then you ARE the product.
3) Curious, I googled (yes, I see the irony) “big data and the church.” Would the two intersect? Nope. (Admittedly, it was hardly an exhaustive search.)
I wonder, is there a place for Big Data in Kingdom work? What if God’s people examined Big Data motivated by a desire to better serve, love and support people? What if we used this technological revolution, morally neutral in itself, to help people find God instead of helping corporations find profits?
What do you think?