“Age of Big Data” (and data jobs)

Two more interesting NY Times articles, these on how people can earn incomes in a Facebook economy:

1. “The Age of Big Data” (link)

Mo Zhou was snapped up by I.B.M. last summer, as a freshly minted Yale M.B.A., to join the technology company’s fast-growing ranks of data consultants. They help businesses make sense of an explosion of data — Web traffic and social network comments, as well as software and sensors that monitor shipments, suppliers and customers — to guide decisions, trim costs and lift sales.

“I’ve always had a love of numbers,” says Ms. Zhou, whose job as a data analyst suits her skills.

My take is, I appreciate the article, and the NY Times attempt to make sense of data as economic objects, but why do people who should know better keep equating ‘data’ with ‘quantification’? Data and quantification are not exactly the same thing. The most cutting-edge way to think about data analysis is to qualify quantities and to quantify qualities. Data analysis requires qualification as much as it requires quantification. Again, somebody hired as a ‘data consultant’ should know this, I think. Too often, I’ve found, they don’t.

2. “Start-Ups Seek to Help Users Put a Price on Their Personal Data” (link)

Facebook’s pending initial public offering gives credence to the argument that personal data is the oil of the digital age. The company was built on a formula common to the technology industry: offer people a service, collect information about them as they use that service and use that information to sell advertising.

People have been willing to give away their data while the companies make money. But there is some momentum for the idea that personal data could function as a kind of online currency, to be cashed in directly or exchanged for other items of value. A number of start-ups allow people to take control — and perhaps profit from — the digital trails that they leave on the Internet.

Mark Austen Whipple
02.13.2012 10:28am

This entry was posted in hard data, Symbolic data, symbolic vs hard data. Bookmark the permalink.

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