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3 years ago

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01001101010100111010100010101 01010101010011010101001110101 00010101010101010100110101010 01110101000101010101010100111 01010001010101010101001110101 00010101010101010011101010001 01010101010110100110101010011 10101000101010101010101001101 01010011101010001010101010101 00111010100010101010101010011 10101000101010101010100111010 10001010101010101101001101010 10011101010001010101010101010 01101010100111010100010101010 10101001110101000101010101010 10011101010001010101010101001 11010100010101010101011101010 10011101010001010101010101010 01101010100111010100010101010 10101001110101000101010101010 10011101010001010101010101001 11010100010101010101011010011 01010100111010100010101010101 01010011010101001110101000101 01010101010011101010001010101 01010100111010100010101010101 01001110101000101010101010110 10011010101001110101000101010 10101010100110101010011101010 00101010101010100111010100010 10101010101001110101000101010 10101010011101010001010101010 10100010101010101010011101010 00101010101010100111010100010 10101010101001110101000101010 10101011010011010101001110101 00010101010101010100110101010 01110101000101010101010100111 01010001010101010101001110101 00010101010101010011101010001 01010101010110100110101010011 10101000101010101010101001101 01010011101010001010101010101 00111010100010101010101010011 10101000101010101010100111010 10001010101010101 0100110101010011 1010100010101010 1010101001101010 1001110101000101 0101010101010011 0101010011101010 0010101010101010 0111010100010101 0101010100111010 1000101010101010 1001110101000101 0101010101 Above: © Nigel Holmes 2012, from The Human Face of Big Data. A Geyser of Information: Tapping the big data oil boom 24

all the data in the world has been generated in the last two years. This includes digitized versions of traditional print media, as well as all the output of our interactions via social media: tweets, uploaded pictures and video, e-mail, instant messages, etc. Data becomes “big” when its scale is so large it can’t be grasped, managed and manipulated by traditional statistical software, and the scale of the information we are generating now is mindblowing: by 2012, people were creating 2.8 zettabytes of data a year, and this is projected to double by 2015 (“zetta” is 2 to the 70th power). But what’s really impressive are the tools we are developing to make sense of all these bytes. While the human race is rapidly depleting or degrading natural resources—oil, water, minerals, biodiversity—one resource is growing at an exponential pace. Every two days people create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003. Put another way, 90 percent of Sci-fi author Sir Arthur C. Clarke coined three laws of prediction, the third of which is “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Big data analytics definitely launches us into that magical realm. While some of the current applications merely increase efficiencies of traditional business (reducing fuel use, for example), they can open up whole new vistas. Predictive marketing enables stores to process the vast amount of personal data they collect on customers to identify what they might buy, and when, with pinpoint accuracy. (Target famously outraged one father by sending coupons for baby products to his teenage daughter, only to have the abashed dad find out “there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of.”) Analysts are becoming ever more savvy at reading the digital footprints we leave via social media, parsing our Facebook posts or mining our tweets to predict our basic personality traits, values and needs. 25