In the end, big data is really a backward science.
It’s a rear-view mirror tool. Think of a super computer with OCD tirelessly sorting through past events – even in real-time as they un-spool – one that seeks out repetitive patterns in the world, makes sense of them, then sells them to the highest bidder.
Most of us remember a way of life guided by homilies, intuition, and superstition. Now we have apps like Yelp, Match.com and Pandora that tap into the power of big data and help discover our hearts desire. Just for fun, check out the documentary attached to see how music discovery was done back in the days before Pandora came on the scene.
At its core big data is about predicting the future.
By analyzing huge data sets relating to the world around us, data scientists are predicting what to expect next based on what’s happened in the past. They are predicting crime patterns in LA, stock market movements on Wall Street, advertising effectiveness on Madison Avenue, genetic coding at UCLA, and the structure of the universe through radio telescopes around the world.
To learn more about big data and prediction see here and here. Or watch this promotional video from the Smarter Planet people at IBM:
Everything you click on, hover over, buy, sell, or view is now being tracked by 1000s of companies. Your presence on social media is also being tracked and analyzed. The reason – your data feeds the online ad industry which clocks in at $30 billion + per year.
All this tracking is invisible. Like ghosts in the machine, a silent army of cookies, trackers, sensors, beacons, and widgets is recording your doings across the web. To see who they are, download apps like Ghostery or DoNotTrackMe. And for a guided tour, attend the short lecture below:
Experts and pundits have begun to use the term “digital exhaust” to describe the data which we as a global community throw off each day. Some of this data comes from academic centers (think CERN or the Human Genome Project). But the lion’s share flows from the digital footprints left by individuals, businesses and institutions through the day.
Statistics circulating online put things into perspective. IBM says that 90% of the data in the world today was created in just the last two years. CSC projects a 4300% increase in data production by 2020. IDC predicts that by 2020 the annual data creation will reach 40 Zettabytes – equivalent to 360 million years of BlueRay quality video or the data created if every US citizen wrote 3 tweets per minute for the next 598,867 years.
For more information see here, here, or here. Or watch commentary below by John Dodge of the Enterprise CIO Forum:
Thanks to new data visualization techniques, and the artists and designers pioneering them, we can transcend traditional numeric tables and now see data in a whole new way.
Consider the Literary Organism project by designer Stefanie Posavec. Through path analysis and color coding she has transformed the narrative structure of Kerouac’s On The Road into a graphic rendition of both rich factual content and delicate beauty. Also, spend 20 minutes with Jer Thorp, NYT Artist In Residence, in the talk below where he shares his passion for the emerging field of data visualization. Beauty is truth!
Data used to be considered boring. It was the domain of engineers (think protractors), organic chemists, accountants, actuarial scientists. Now, thanks to massive server farms, clever algorithms and machine learning, data has become the lifeblood of Silicon Valley and the foundation of huge personal fortunes.
To understand these changes read a recent article in the Harvard Business Review which chronicles the emergence of big data as “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” Even more telling, check out the recent TED talk below by Jameson Toole of MIT’s Human Mobility & Network Lab. The gleam in his eye speaks volumes about the irresistible allure of big data to scientists, entrepreneurs and speculators of our time.
The folks at Coca Cola have been busy reinventing their model for brand communications.
If you watched Superbowl XLVI you probably saw the newest round of Polar Bear ads. What you may not have seen was the live-streamed “Polar Bowl” which viewers could visit during the game on their “second screen” (read iPad). The response was stunning – 9 million people tuned into this parallel, virtual world to watch animated polar bears reacting real-time to the game.
This is not a one-off deal. Coca Cola actually has a master plan to create a new model for brand building. It is grounded in the concept of “liquid content” – ideas that are so captivating, so provocative, so contagious they cannot be controlled. Ultimately, Coke aims to evolve their approach from “one-way storytelling” to a “dynamic storytelling model” where the brand narrative is so compelling, it flows into the popular narrative and earns cultural capital.
Moral of the story – harness the power of liquid content for your brand!
I'm Dave Nemiah - a brand insights & strategy exec who delights in uncovering hidden (or simply overlooked) drivers of consumer behavior. This blog is a holding pen for raw insights into human nature & impulse that I stumble on during the course of my day.