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Big Data Knows You Had Leftover Chicken for Dinner Last Night

Big Data in the News

In just the past 15 minutes, I ran across these two unrelated articles on my #bigdata Twitter feed.

Big Data Knows What You're Doing Right Now
Wow! Twitter can tell you when you are going to get sick.

One of my favorite things about Big Data are the ridiculous blog headlines you can craft, simply by playing off the newness and lack of understanding around what Big Data is.

Take the first article for example. Time Magazine posits that aggregators are collecting a boatload of sensitive information about each and every one of us. Every time we accept a privacy policy or log in to Facebook or play an iPad app, a shadowy organization learns something new about us as individuals, powered of course by big data.

Sounds scary right?

The truth is Big Data likely doesn't have the first clue that I'm blogging about it right now. In fact, Big Data probably doesn't realize I just finished a can of La Croix Lime or that I don't really care who wins the Modern Pentathlon at the London Olympics.

I'm being flip, but the point is the overwhelming majority of information captured for use in Big Data is anonymous and likely could never be traced back to an individual. It's simply for use in the aggregate. There are plenty of worthwhile -even world changing- big data projects taking place, and most of them do not know or care that I sort of secretly enjoy the music of Maroon 5.

Now, the second story on the other hand is more than just a really great headline. Check out how aggregated Twitter data can predict, with a fairly high degree of accuracy, the prevalence of a flu outbreak.

More Stories By David Tishgart

David Tishgart is a Director of Product Marketing at Cloudera, focused on the company's cloud products, strategy, and partnerships. Prior to joining Cloudera, he ran business development and marketing at Gazzang, an enterprise security software company that was eventually acquired by Cloudera. He brings nearly two decades of experience in enterprise software, hardware, and services marketing to Cloudera. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

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