Friday, April 26, 2013

David Brooks, Your Premise is Off!

I've already blogged about some of David Brooks' writing on big data.  Though it is admirable that he is taking the time to delve in to the emerging world of data, he needs to apply some differential thinking to the information he is collecting.  In this piece, his premise is again off:
The theory of big data is to have no theory, at least about human nature. You just gather huge amounts of information, observe the patterns and estimate probabilities about how people will act in the future.        
This is not the theory of big data - this is a small sliver of what is and can be done with the explosion of structured data that is popping around us.  To diminish the power of big data to just what can be gleaned through "estimated probabilities" is to focus on the tree and not the forest.

The power of data is in the information it contains, not the method by which it is extracted.  And the limit is our imagination.

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