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Big Data, Definition

“Big data is data that exceeds the processing capacity of conventional database systems. The data is too big, moves too fast, or doesn’t fit the strictures of your database architectures. To gain value from this data, you must choose an alternative way to process it.” - Edd Dumbill

“Big data is high volume, high velocity, and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization.” - Doug Laney

“Data of a very large size, typically to the extent that its manipulation and management present significant logistical challenges.” - OED


1. The Importance of 'Big Data': A Definition, Mark Beyer, Douglas. Gartner.

2. What is big data?, O'Reilly Radar blog.

3.The Oxford Dictionary


Ethics in Big Data

The biggest concern of ethics in Big Data is that the collection and use of Big data usually goes against the concept of privacy and security. There is clearly many benefits to the use of Big data, however, the benefits to its usage are much more for the collectors of Big data than the public. The issues of ethics would not be much of a concern for the public if the trade-off of forgoing privacy is low. However, that is not the case.

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Review of Big Data book, Chapter 6: Value

The advent of Big data has changed the way data is valued. Originally, data were collected and valued for their primary use, then came the realization that data can be potentially useful for future purposes. The value of data does not diminish as it can be reused several times.

This shift has inspired many organizations to adopt the N=all philosophy of big data. Nowadays, data collection and storage is now cheaper, hence, organizations are able to invest in collecting large sets of data in order to reuse it for different purposes. For instance, Facebook tracks user activities (likes, status updates and comments) to display the ads suitable to each user. Amazon also track user activities (like visited pages and clicks) to offer recommendations tailored for the user.

It has also been discovered that there is a lot of potential benefits in combining multiple data sources. This has inspired new approaches to research. However, one of the biggest challenge of big data is knowing when the collected data is no longer useful.