Monday, August 18, 2014

Data Janitors.

For the last few years we've been bludgeoned with all the wonderful things that will happen in marketing, in selling a product, in finding consumers at the exact moment they want to be found, due to big data.

Big Data (I've capitalized the D for effect) was going to solve all our problems. We'd be able to look at a vomitous mass of 1s and 0s and say, 'such and such person is poised to click on my banner ad and buy an entire case of Scrubbing Bubble. I know it to be so, because Big Data told me so.'

Big Data, I'm afraid, is just another of humanity's hype-bubbles, like investing in Tulips, the Suez Canal, the Transcontinental Rail Road, South Sea Islands, housing developments in suburban Sprawlsville or myriad others.

Big Data is just another 'get-rich-quick-scheme.' A sham, a fraud, a canard without the orange sauce.

As Jeffrey Heer, a professor of Computer Science at University of Washington says (as reported in "The New York Times") "It's an absolute myth that you can send an algorithm over raw data and have insights pop up."

In other words, what's needed amidst all the crap we're accumulating is exactly why 99.9% of all companies will fail to glean anything but horseshit from the data they have. And that includes the NSA.

Big Data can't really be read automatically. To make any sense of it at all demands "Data Janitor Work." That is the reading of that data to turn it from digital clutter into something useful. There are dozens of companies trying to automate the process of turning straw into gold. But for now, Big Data has what they're calling "an iceberg issue." We focus on seeing the promise of a result, rather than on all the toil beneath.

It's a basic human desire to dream of an easy way of success. Some people get down on their knees to pray for it. Some people turn to science and try to turn base-metal into gold. Others sell snake oil and liniments that will magically cure all.


There's one easy way to success.

Hard work.

No comments: