Oxford professor and author Viktor Mayer-Schönberger joins Economist data editor and commentator Kenneth Cukier to deliver insight into the hottest trend in technology. "Big data" makes it possible to instantly analyze and draw conclusions from vast stores of information, enabling revolutionary breakthroughs in business, health, politics, and education. But big data also raises troubling social and privacy concerns sure to be a major talking point in the years ahead.
©2013 Viktor Mayer-Schöberger and Kenneth Cukier (P)2013 Recorded Books
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
If you don’t know anything about big data, this might be a fine introduction to the subject, but for those who have not been living under a rock this was pretty light stuff. Big Data is a survey and brief history of big data, how it is being, and will be, used and finally some warnings about how big data could be abused. There are a few examples of how big data has been used effectively but there is not much in the way of details or deep analysis. The one exception was a lot of words spent worrying about big data and punishing people based upon predictions and the possible loss of personal responsibility and accountability. This was a little hyped for me. I learned more about big data from reading the Wikipedia entry. This was nicely narrated and largely mildly interesting.
Letting the rest of the world go by
The book itself illustrates its points with good stories and examples. There's really not that much to the story. Data exist and were getting more of it. Tools for analyzing it exist and they are getting better. We will use the data to our advantage when available. A full book to tell that story wasn't necessary.
We have more data and better tools to analyze them then ever before. That alone doesn't make us special as the theme of the book seems to tell us. That's as true today as well as everyday for the last 400 years or so. A lot our previous ways of thinking about the world were limited by the amount of data we had and the tools we had to analyze that data. Now days, because of the data and tools available, the what (i.e. correlation) can be more important than the how (i.e. causation) and decisions can proceed based on just the correlation and not necessarily understanding the reason for the causation. That doesn't mean we can ignore the how, but we don't always have to understand the reasons behind things when we look at all the data and see the correlations pop out. This is a big theme of the book.
A good narrator like this one makes a mediocre book good.
Every time you use a computer, scan your credit/debit card or loyalty card, or drive your car, Big Data is being collected about you - without your direct and specific permission and with no compensation to you. Big Data refers to the abundance of data that is collected on every person voluntarily and involuntarily, with and without their knowledge, every second of every day. It is available for relatively quick predictive analysis of just about everything we do. The abundance of data, its use and re-use, are transforming our world.
Can Google predict an outbreak of the flu? Can a car detect that a thief is behind the wheel? Can Apple really tell our biometrics through the use of their earbuds? The amazing answer is – yes! By correlating data from one place with the data from another, and maybe even another, companies can form an accurate picture of your needs and wants and present them to you for purchase. One interesting correlation of this data is drawing on the unrelated behaviors of the web sites a person visits and their hobbies, with their insurance premium. Or connecting credit reports and consumer marketing data with a person’s higher risk of having high blood pressure.
While collecting every bit of data about people seems invasive of our privacy, it saves lives and helps doctors treat people sooner. Analytics determined that preemies stabilize right before they encounter a crisis. I believe the recent revelation that our government has been collecting data of our phone calls is the latter element mentioned in the “burgeoning field” in the book as “network analysis,” where it is “possible to map, measure and calculate the nodes and links for everything from one’s friends on Facebook, to which court decisions cite which precedents, to who calls whom on their cellphones. Together these tools help answer non-causal, empirical questions.” Hurricanes can be predicted through the purchase of Pop-Tarts.
Data is painlessly collected by “seeing” how many cell phones are traveling on a highway to show real-time traffic patterns, or how many cell phones are gathered together to determine how many people showed up for a protest. Even our Tweets are sold and used to “garner aggregate customer feedback” or see if a marketing campaign is working. The innocent act of providing pictures and news on Facebook (and other social media) so our family and friends can share our joy is a voluntarily act of giving up our privacy so business (and government) can benefit from our thoughts, our pleasures, and those we “follow.”
Imperfect yet informative, Big Data’s usefulness has only just begun.
It was read to perfection, at a pace that made this sometimes incredible information, easier to grasp. I even set the reading rate faster than "1" many times, as it was written to be easily understood.
Once I started this book, it was really hard to stop. A good read about how the world is changing.
This was an interesting book about potential uses of new forms of data. It also includes many interesting stories and examples of data use in the past, present, and future. The book explains how data can be used in new ways to that will improve business and society. Massive amounts of data was once only captured by the Navy, Astronomers, and Scientists. Today, it is becoming a natural resource and is captured by nearly every business and by millions of devices around the world. With the emergence of social networking, reams of data have been stored about people and places. New data sources are starting to take shape. Data is now being captured by everything from home appliances to industrial machines. The harvesting, analyzing, reporting, and decision making that comes with these new forms of data is very exciting. This book is not for everyone, but as a software developer, I found this book to be very enjoyable.
This books provides an excellent overview of big data and examples where it's affecting our lives. It explains the difference between between "digitalization" (e.g., electronically booking your travel) and "datafication" (e.g., analysis of past flight data to predict the potential and duration of delays). The analysis of all data in all its form (good and messy) provides unexpected results. For example, a flight is more likely to be delayed longer due to fog than snow. Computing power and new processing techniques are allowing businesses to apply big data in all kinds of areas. For example, Google was able to track the spread of 2009 flu in real time, whereas prior to that the CDC took weeks. Google compared the most common search terms with CDC data. And through testing hundreds of mathematical models, found a combination of search terms that strongly correlated with official data. Our own behavior contributes to the use of big data. When we purchase items from Amazon, all of that metadata is stored and crunched. You're given recommendations based on what you purchased and what others making that same purchase had purchased in addition to that.
The potential of big data is both incredible and scary. Imagine traffic on every road is available in real time based people's cell phone signal as they are driving. There will be some accurate data (e.g., people in cars on the road) and some messy data (e.g., someone walking or standing on the sidewalk). New processing techniques know how to pick out the right set of data. To what extent will data be collected and used for purposes that we never anticipated?
Yes. The book conveys the concept of BigData using some really interesting anecdotes.
Easy to understand structure and devoid of any fancy/confusing jargons.
Easy to understand voice however not monotonic at the same time.
Some of the BigData stories were truly surprising including the Google's H1N1 Flu story.
Really enjoyed listening to this book. I am planning to re-listen really soon and read the paper copy as well.
I like to listen to business, self-development, behavioural and books that challenge my perspective
If you are interested in the discussion of Big Data and how it impacts on society and the impacts to your Internet life, then i recommend this book.
The thought provoking discussion on the ability of Google to predict the spread of the flu
Life is wonderful ! Lots of great books to listen yeah !
I borrowed the book from library was enjoyable but quite dry and I did not finish reading it.
I really wanted to understand the what, why and how about Big Data, I turned to the audio version
It was 360 degrees entertainment. The most interesting and informative. The overall concept came alive and I am able to grasp the evolution of collecting, storing vast data. Full of insight.
Now I am going to buy the book in hard copy to use as reference and read the printed format to have a rock sold understanding Big Data.
History, background and lots of real life benefits fo Big Data especially N=ALL
I love data, statisticis and analysis so this book is perfect for me.
Good voice tone, engaging and lively.
The dark side of Big Data. Everything comes with a price, as long as we do not abuse the tool. Still I think the good over rides the not so good. Big Data is here to stay, we should enhanced it for overall good to bring peace and happiness to the world.
We need to have trust, love and care. Not everyone is bad just misguided. We also should respect one another's likes and dislikes.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
The future will be defined by N = All data sets full of messy data for sure but the messiness can be overcome by volume. Making since out the the data exhaust that was once thought of as noise is where the value is gained. The amount of data continues to grow but new big data solutions allow for mining that data for true gems of knowledge laying beneath the data. Big Data grapples with the promise of this future as well as a cautionary tail of how this could lead to the Big Brother world Orwell warned us about.
The criticism that this book is repetitive is a bit unfortunate. This is the history of "Big Data" and how it has worked its way into public health, experimental science, marketing, and finance. Anyone can listen to this book and understand it regardless of their background. It it less methodology and more theory. I learned a lot of valuable and interesting information.
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