Data Then And Now

We may consider it to be a high-tech new element, but it has been around for a long time


Big Data has been pushed as the high tech way forward that allows us to see things that we could have never seen before and solve problems that would have previously been solved. It is also a buzzword and something which people get frustrated by because it does not fulfil everything they want it to achieve.

The only way Big Data can be processed is through the use of brand new computers with huge processing power, even the most basic uses of data, such as weather reporting, now requires multimillion dollar computers. For instance, the Met Office in the UK is paying £97m/$150m for their new predictive computer which will allow the weather to be forecasted more accurately than ever.

There has also been the constant need to update systems in order to push forward and take advantage of data, pushed predominantly by the bigger opportunities that the increased use of online platforms has brought.

But it is not new. In 1914 a book was published by Willard Brinton - Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts, which discussed many of the elements that we still work with today. For instance the top technology of the day could deal with 3,000 records on stamp cards per hour, something that many could only dream of.

Much of what the book discusses is still very relevant today and the basic premise, that data can empower people and businesses, remains the same. It even discusses the best way to present data, something that we discussed recently.

In fact the only real difference between what was being done in 1914 and today is that the availability of data today has increased significantly due to the size of our digital footprints growing so much in the past 10 years alone. It has meant that Big Data has become big, but the relevance and use of data, at its core, has not changed in hundreds of years.

Although not a revolutionary thought, it is something that many companies would do well to remember at a time when many appear to be trying to run before they can walk. It is always a consideration that regardless of what you are trying to do with data, the primary reasons for collecting data has not changed and this should be factored in to any data mining or analysis project.


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