The human race has come a long way since the introduction of computers like the Commodore 64. The days when 64 kilobytes of data seemed like a lot of information are long gone. Man has surpassed the megabyte, the gigabyte, pushed past the tera byte, and even the Petabyte is being more commonly used as a reference point for sizes of big data sets.
The idea of big data has arisen from this reality, referring to data sets so large that standard database management techniques of old make it difficult to even handle simple tasks like searching and updating records, without expending extremely long durations of time to get the job done.
As the amount of information we play with in the digital realm keeps growing, it begs the question if such enormous amounts of data can be used in any truly interesting and cool ways, or if such vast amounts of data become too unmanageable to be useful at all.
Social Networking And Marketing Trends
One of the interesting modern applications of super large data sets is in keeping track and running analysis on the data gathered from major social networking sites like Facebook. With millions of users updating their profiles, status messages, and friends lists on a regular basis, websites like Facebook have to collect and analyze as much information as they can to be able to help advertisers run effective targeted ad campaigns on their site.
often large social networking sites gather massive volumes of information to be able to sell this information to third party companies who collect trending information for market research purposes. In short, massive data analysis is big business, and most companies have their hands in this cookie jar in one capacity or another, since market research is such a key aspect of modern business trends.
After all, sifting through all that data might expose the next hottest toy that people are vying for around Christmas time, which can spell huge profits for those who get their hands on this information before anyone else.
Aside from buying and selling massive sets of data in the business world, the field of various branches of science are also taking advantage of these large repositories of data as well. Whether it is a research team trying to construct a meteorological history of global weather patterns as far back as the available data allows, or it is a team of researchers combing through huge volumes of sensor data to determine if anything interesting is going on at the quantum level within a super hadron collider, super large data sets are often at the heart of many of these scientific endeavors.
And every day, the amount of information at our disposal is increasing at a rate that is truly mind blowing. It is likely that humanity will reach a point where the data sets get so large that the time required to sift through the volume of information may exceed our ability to make the effort worth wasting our time. Until then, it may serve our medical interests to start collecting information on everything that millions of people eat each day of their lives. Imagine a social network food diary, which tabulates everything we eat for our lifetime, and relates this record to what we died of, in relation to our family history.
The patterns within this enormous pile of information may expose dietary trends that guarantee diseases will occur versus dietary trends that expose how some individuals avoid acquiring diseases altogether. Such a research and analysis task would be overwhelming to say the least, but it might lead to significant changes in how people handle health care issues and frame healthcare policies.
The Cloud Is The Limit
With all our data being uploaded to cloud servers these days, and being accessed by computers and mobile devices, there seems to be no end to the growth potential of super massive data sets. At present, it seems as if there will be an endless sea of incoming data for researchers to pour over, identifying trends that occasionally expose that something interesting is taking place, allowing the masters of the information age to keep their finger on the pulse of human evolution, ever searching for new and interesting patterns in the emerging chaos of data.