Is Big Data the answer to all our problems?


Noah Smith recently commented on a Malcom Gladwell talk in which he (Gladwell) expressed doubts about the promise of “Big Data.”  When people use the term “Big Data” they are often referring to datasets that are built from digital data streams like Google searches, the Twitter feed, and so forth but it can also refer simply to large datasets that were previously too cumbersome for researchers to access easily. In any case, Gladwell says that this newfound data availability is not our salvation. He also claims that this data might be a curse. Noah devotes most of his comment to countering Gladwell’s claims. I’m actually not a huge Malcom Gladwell fan and, like Noah, I basically disagree with the idea that having more data could be a problem for us.  More data must be better. (OK, there is the Snowden issue and government invasions of privacy more generally but…

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