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Poll Result: Big Data Is Probably Significant, but not too Surprising

Posted by editor on December 16, 2013 at 9:36 AM PST

In the most recently completed poll, developers suggested that, yes, they're aware of "Big Data" and its implications, but overall they're not all that surprised at what they're seeing in that area. A plurality of votes went to "It was bound to happen, given today's powerful computers, it's no big surprise"...

A total of 135 votes were cast in the poll. The exact question and results were:

What's so big about 'Big Data'?

  • 16% (21 votes) - It's revolutionary technology that will fundamentally alter our world
  • 19% (26 votes) - It's one among many important new technologies
  • 26% (35 votes) - It was bound to happen, given today's powerful computers, it's no big surprise
  • 7% (9 votes) - I've heard the term, I think it might be important
  • 17% (23 votes) - Nothing, really, it's just a gimmick
  • 16% (21 votes) - I have no idea

From this spread of votes, really what can you deduce other than a feeling that most developers consider Big Data an important but natural development. Yes, it's important, but it couldn't happen until hardware and software advanced such that Big Data analysis could be supported, and we've reached that point in time today, so it's happening.

On the other hand, it's kind of interesting that 44% of developers think "Big Data" either is a gimmick, or they have no idea why it might be "so big" today; and only 16% think Big Data is "revolutionary technology that will fundamentally alter our world."

So, in a sense, developers haven't yet come to a consensus verdict on "Big Data." I myself consider today's "Big Data" as a continuation of a decades-long trend wherein we measure ever greater amounts of information and apply computational analysis to that data to reach conclusions that can then be applied strategically or scientifically or otherwise.

Small bits of data are analyzed by algorithms to yield conclusions that can be useful -- but only if correct conclusions are drawn from the data. That is, you still need an intelligent human being in the loop, someone who can apply judgment to determine what in the patterns outlined by the algorithms is significant, and what's just an aspect of noise.

New poll: What new developments affected your work in 2013

Our current poll asks you to respond to the prompt My work in 2013 was affected most by new developments related to.... Voting will be open until Friday, December 27.

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-- Kevin Farnham (@kevin_farnham)

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