What is Big Data?

Contemporary computer science defines “Big Data” as data that is too big to store, analyze, or deal with. Big Data is characterized by volume, velocity, and variety. The volume is growing exponentially and the storage capacity is not keeping up.

“In 2011, 1.8 zettabytes (or 1.8 trillion gigabytes) of data was created, the equivalent to every U.S. citizen writing 3 tweets per minute for 26,976 years… Data will grow by 50 times by 2020.” [ACM TechNews, IDC (International Data Corporation) study]


Information databases are being produced by education, business, government, finance, medicine, and science. There are social media databases like email, Twitter, YouTube, and Face Book. Google and other search engines are saving every search, tracking our Internet explorations. Data is being collected by things like autos, appliances, and surveillance cameras. Sensors are everywhere collecting data.

The big question is, “Can value be derived from all this data?” Information has value if it can be accessed easily, analyzed, and applied. Valuable data is organized. Schools and libraries with good IT infrastructure can find value from data. Libraries can analyze circulation data and database usage statistics. Take advantage of the free open source software and give value to your data. (Check out Eric’s postings on collecting library data).

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”  —Scott Adams, Author and Comic Strip Artist


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