What is ‘big data’?

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Author's Note: What is 'big data'?

Like anything, big data can be used for good, for ill, and for lots of stuff in between. Having ads and coupons targeted at us can be a convenience or a major annoyance. And it's more than a little unnerving the amount strangers can learn about us just because we're swiping plastic in their stores or using their cards.

Loyalty cards I'd always figured were ways to gather data on our purchases, but I hadn't really appreciated how much similar data was being tied to us individually through debit/credit purchases until now, or the incredible detail about our lives that could be discerned from it. And this isn't even including all the other information about us out there on the Internet.

The thought of my every move being analyzed makes me want to go off the grid somewhat, stop posting online and use cash for everything. Although most of us, including me, will probably continue on as we are for convenience purposes. I just might post and buy as though I'm being watched.

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