Getting started with big data

"Most” organizations are embracing big data. For instance, a 2013 Gartner survey found that 64 percent of enterprises were deploying or planning big data projects, up from 58% the year before. Those numbers simply don't fit with what I’m seeing, and I suspect that I'm hardly alone. (By way of […]

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The dark side of the mood

As an unabashed lover of data, I am thrilled to be living and working in our increasingly data-constructed world. One new type of data analysis eliciting strong emotional reactions these days is the sentiment analysis of the directly digitized feedback from customers provided via their online reviews, emails, voicemails, text messages and social networking […]

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Direct data monetization

With respect to data, there seem to be a few types of companies: Those that do fairly little with the value of their data. I've consulted for quite a few. Those that maximize the value of their data, often controversially. Facebook and Google are squarely in this group. Those that maximize the […]

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Innovation needs contamination

In his book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Steven Johnson explained that “error is not simply a phase you have to suffer through on the way to genius. Error often creates a path that leads you out of your comfortable assumptions. Being right keeps you in […]

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Lean against bias for accurate analytics

We sometimes describe the potential of big data analytics as letting the data tell its story, casting the data scientist as storyteller. While the journalist has long been a newscaster, in recent years the term data-driven journalism has been adopted to describe the process of using big data analytics to […]

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The case for numeracy

For as long as I can remember, I have known about the importance of literacy. Without being able to read and write, you can only go so far in life. Imagine not being able to read warnings on prescription medicine. You are able to recognize a stop sign, but how […]

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Putting new life into “old” data

In the big data era, I hear a lot about new and dynamic data sources that are giving companies a wide range of opportunities – and anxiety. When industry wonks talk about the “speeds and feeds” inherent in big data, they are often talking about an avalanche of transactional or […]

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Big data hubris

While big data is rife with potential, as Larry Greenemeier explained in his recent Scientific American blog post Why Big Data Isn’t Necessarily Better Data, context is often lacking when data is pulled from disparate sources, leading to questionable conclusions. His blog post examined the difficulties that Google Flu Trends […]

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Data metavisualization

How does one select the "right" or "best" way to visually represent data? Of course, the short answer is it depends. (In fact, that theoretical manner might not even exist.) Beyond that, it's an interesting question and, as I argue in The Visual Organization, a harder one to answer these days […]

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What magic teaches us about data science

Teller, the normally silent half of the magician duo Penn & Teller, revealed some of magic’s secrets in a Smithsonian Magazine article about how magicians manipulate the human mind. Given the big data-fueled potential of data science to manipulate our decision-making, we should listen to what Teller has to tell […]

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