The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Small Data | What’s The Big Data?

Faith in the power (especially the predictive power) of more data is of course a central tenet of the religion of big data and it looks like the NSA has been a willing convert. But not everybody agrees it’s the most effective course of action. For example, business analytics expert Meta Brown: “The unspoken assumption here is that possessing massive quantities of data guarantees that the government will be able to find criminals, and find them quickly, by tracing their electronic tracks. That assumption is unrealistic. Massive quantities of data add cost and complexity to every kind of analysis, often with no meaningful improvement in the results. Indeed, data quality problems and slow data processing are almost certain to arise, actually hindering the work of data analysts. It is far more productive to invest resources into thoughtful analysis of modest quantities of good quality, relevant data.”

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