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1. Big Data Myth 1:Size is all that matters
The very word “Big” indicates size. It is also the case that measures of size are very easily conveyed. We have all heard statements about how high a stack of phonebooks is required to store the data that is easily kept on one disk drive. So it is not surprising that for many lay people, Big Data is all about size. One would think that technical people would know better. Unfortunately, size also lends itself to easy measurement. It is straightforward to count up the number of bytes in some data store, and equally easy to plot a sequence of such measurements on a chart showing exponential growth. In fact, such charts have become so common that even many lay people get the concept. What this leads to, among other things, is serious people apologetically saying that they only have a few hundred gigabytes of data and so are not sure that they really have a Big Data problem. ✩ This article belongs to Visions on Big Data. E-mail address: email@example.com. URL: http://www.eecs.umich.edu/~jag. This is sad, because we are putting off so many people we ought to be able to help. In spite of the points made above, I believe that better sense would have prevailed in our understanding of Big Data if it were not for the economic imperatives of the IT industry. We have today a huge ecosystem of Big Data systems. These systems are, for the most part, innovative: collectively, they constitute a whole new paradigm of scaling. There are many who have problems that require this scale and are amenable to these new architectures. These facts have led to the creation of a new industry segment and benefitted many, all of which is good. But the tremendous progress made in this space has also sucked the Oxygen out of the air for everything else, as it were. Industry wants to talk about volume, for economic reasons. And money speaks.
6. Big Data Myth 6: Big Data is all hype
Data analysis has been around for quite a while. Databases too. So what has changed? Why is now the time to get excited about Big Data? Is this merely some hype cooked up by breathless journalists? Given the tremendous attention being paid to Big Data, this is a fair question to ask. But we see that data collection is cheap today, due to ubiquitous digitization, business process automation, the web, and sensor networks, in a way that it never was before. Data storage is cheap too, due to falling media prices. In consequence, nearly every field of endeavor is transitioning from “data poor” to “data rich.” So it is not surprising that everywhere around us we have people asking about the potential of Big Data. At the same time, we have a growing social understanding of the consequences of Big Data. We are only beginning to scratch the surface today in our characterization of data privacy. Our appreciation of the ethics of data analysis is also in its infancy. Mistakes and overreach in this regard can very quickly lead to backlash that could close many things down. But barring such mishaps, it is safe to say that Big Data may be hyped, but there is more than enough substance there for it to deserve our attention.