Choosing Between My Wonderful Grandson & The Wonderful NY Times

This morning’s NY Times [“Is Big Data An Economic Big Dud?”] has confronted me with a choice. Either my very bright grandson Ben OR their very bright reporter James Glanz. Both are deep into the workings of what is now called Big Data and The Cloud. In this morning’s edition, Glanz seems to think the awesome potential of these two enormous blocks of information may not yet be fully realized. However, Ben just back from winning Ohio for Obama during the 2012 elections, seems to think their potential is steadily being understood.

Frankly I don’t much understand either; but the way Ben and his field teams used the Ohio voter profiles, helped them target those who were more likely to support their man. The way the statisticians explain Big Data and The Cloud is to compare this vast raw pool of facts and stats, gigabytes and videos, emails and blogs with some giant national electrical grid whose energies are available for instant applications in a thousand problem solving ways.

Over coffee I asked Ben isn’t this an example of reductionism? statisticalizing people? allowing them to be understood more through their cognitive choices rather than their affective ones? Ben listened politely, but I got the impression he was thinking, “Granpa is a19th C man still trying to catch up with the 20th C here in the 21st.

Which may be fairly accurate. Now I’m trying to decide whether this is something I should be unembarrassed about or proud of….?

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