The Blurring of Big Data

Manovich states that there is a specific definition for “big data” in the computer industry that is different from the designation uses in his article “Trending: The Promises and Challenges of Big Social Data,” illustrating that there are separate disciplines that perceive and use data in different ways.  However, I would argue that the scholarly fields of study that rely on data for their research is actually increasing so that eventually there may be crossover between these two definitions of “big data.”  I deduce this from his focus of the later definition in which he discusses the fields in the humanities that use social data to study human behavior, such as Sociology student, Nathan Eagle, who collected data from 100 MIT student phones for 9 months (4).

He excitedly mentions the new possibilities that “big data” brings; however, he discusses their limitations, such how much a “lay person” can analyze and manipulate data that is now readily available to the public (versus a person trained in technology that can better manipulate data) (10-11).  Thus, while the access to big data is enabling the “non-technical” fields of study to utilize technological methods of interpretation (within limits) it is blurring the separation between science and the humanities.

Technology experts, economists, and Manovich agree that we are now part of the “industrial revolution of data” (as qtd 1).  Therefore, the infiltration of “big data” into the lives of the individual, and the industries (e.g. retail, travel, hotels, education, manufacturing, etc.) is bound to have cross-over. Technology itself enables more efficient communication and connection between people and groups; therefore it follows that this melding of society would also penetrate to distinct methodologies as it becomes a “way of life” and grants us new ways of accomplishing things.