From the first tally, scratched on a wolf bone over thirty thousand years ago, to the Large Hadron Collider, which produces forty million megabytes of data per second, data is big, and getting bigger. It can help us do things faster and more efficiently than ever before, from tracking wolves through Minnesota by GPS to predicting which crimes are likely to happen where. Mega data has led to scientific and social achievements that would have been impossible just a few years ago. But being too dazzled by the scale, the speed, and the geeky jargon can lead us astray. It’s big, but it’s not always clever.
Timandra Harkness cuts through the hype to put data science into its real-life context using a wide range of stories, people, and places to reveal what is essentially a human science–demystifying big data, telling us where it comes from and what it can do. BIG DATA then asks the awkward questions: What are the unspoken assumptions underlying its methods? Are we being bamboozled by mega data’s size, its speed, and its shiny technology?
Nobody needs a degree in computer science to follow Harkness’s exploration of what mega data can do for us–and what it can’t or shouldn’t. BIG DATA asks you to decide: Are you a data point, or a human being?