I’m always on the alert for articles describing big data that appear in mainstream publications that can formulate opinions of the general public about this rapidly growing phenomenon. Case in point, an article with the title “Big Data: Does Size Really Matter?” recently appeared in WIRED. The author does a decent job of pointing out the growing importance of unstructured social media data (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) in the results delivered by big data. I think the example of proactively addressing negative comments by customers through use of sentiment analysis is a useful one. As a data scientist, this new capability is something I’m very excited about – a great resource in my toolbox.
My complaint with the article is the use of the term “small data” to describe social media commentaries. Sure, Tweets are only 140 characters in length, but that is NOT a reason to call it small data! If anything, the integration of social media data with transactional data just makes the combination even Bigger Data. I would say that a proper use of “small data” would be to describe the volume of data collected by SMEs; they may have the same analytical needs of large companies, just with smaller amounts of data.
The public deserves to get an accurate picture of how technology is growing in ways that may affect their lives. I’ll continue to survey the landscape of the big data industry and pass along my observations. Please give me feedback if you have opinions on the matter.
Daniel – insideBIGDATA, Managing Editor