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Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
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Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,109 Ratings  ·  477 Reviews
A revelatory exploration of the hottest trend in technology and the dramatic impact it will have on the economy, science, and society at large.

Which paint color is most likely to tell you that a used car is in good shape? How can officials identify the most dangerous New York City manholes before they explode? And how did Google searches predict the spread of the H1N1 flu
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 15, 2013 Marks54 rated it liked it
I chose to read this book because it is one of the more visible examples of a trade business/ technology book about some recent changes in the data/information business. The key intuition that this book is highlighting is a shift towards greatly increased production of data and greatly increased use of large nearly complete population levels data sets in the management and control of a range of industries. This change is fueled by the wide adoption of broadband internet services and significant ...more
Jul 26, 2013 Jimboninja rated it liked it
This book was interesting initially but became a bit repetitive overall. It has three major points in it;

1. Sampling was important when collecting data was expensive and difficult, but we now we have access by one means or another to all data.

2. Since we have so much data, the quality of individual data points is not important and we can allow inexactness in measurement processes as long as there isn't a systematic bias.

3. Causality and understanding why things happen is no longer as important
Rob Kitchin
May 04, 2013 Rob Kitchin rated it it was ok
In 2008 the term ‘big data’ was barely in use. Five years later and it has become latest ICT-related buzzword, used to refer to the recent surge in the generation of huge quantities of diverse and dynamic data produced by social media, transactions and interactions across the internet, sensor and camera networks, a myriad software-enabled devices, scientific equipment, etc. Mayer-Schonberger and Cukier’s book aims to provide an initial survey and analysis of the big data phenomena and what they ...more
David Adams
Apr 20, 2013 David Adams rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: not recommended
Shelves: not-recommended
I just stopped reading this book at page 143 and I don't plan on continuing. The book is padded and repetitive plus most of the examples have already been published in articles. As another reviewer stated book... "it could've been reduced to a single feature-length article with links to prior stories"

Strange Statements:

-"Data has become a raw material for business... The data can reveal secrets to those with the humility, willingness, and the tools to listen"
Is this book about Data Science or di
Dec 27, 2014 Trevor rated it really liked it
Chapter two of this book starts by telling us the three things the book will be about:

“The first is the ability to analyse vast amounts of data about a topic rather than be forced to settle for smaller sets. The second is a willingness to embrace data’s real-world messiness rather than privilege exactitude. The third is the growing respect for correlations rather than a continuing quest for elusive causality.”

And that is exactly what this book does – it discusses each of these points more or les
Mal Warwick
Jul 09, 2013 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it
Shocked by the NSA revelations? You don't know the whole story

While Edward Snowden bounces from one temporary refuge to another in search of safe harbor from the long arms of the U.S. government, the American public is starting to wake up to the reality of Big Data. The National Security Agency, long one of the pioneers in this burgeoning but little-appreciated field, has been teaching us -- or, rather, Snowden, The Guardian, and the Washington Post have been teaching us -- about the power that
Troy Blackford
Jan 22, 2014 Troy Blackford rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating exploration of the topic of what happens when the sample size of a given field of study reaches the point where n=all. That is to say, what happens when we have data for all of a given variable, rather than just taking a sampling and extrapolating out findings. The authors compare the difference to what happened to visual representation when you could make a number of photographs in one second - it wasn't just a quality-based leap like that of the jump from realistic artwor ...more
Elizabeth Theiss
Jan 26, 2015 Elizabeth Theiss rated it liked it
Shelves: science, data
Big Data takes on big ideas: how will the availability of huge data sets change the way we do research? Does it matter why something happens as much as what precisely is happening? Will correlation analysis of large data sets take the place of the painstaking theory-to-hypothesis-to-empirical-testing of traditional science?

The author perhaps over promises the impact of Big Data and underestimates the associated privacy issues. Yet, there is much that is interesting and important in this book. Wh
Aaron Thibeault
Mar 21, 2013 Aaron Thibeault rated it really liked it
*A full executive summary of this book is available here:

The main argument: Statistical information, or data, has long been recognized to be a potentially rich and valuable source of knowledge. Until recently, however, our ability to render phenomena and events in a quantified format, store this information, and analyze it has been severely limited. With the rise of the digital age, though, these limitations are quickly being eroded. To begin with, digita
Feb 16, 2015 Lars rated it it was ok
Having been on a big data/statistics binge recently, I can't help but be struck by the similarities in approach and execution between the major titles on the subject. Crack open any of these books and the authors are sure to regale you with the torrid tales of Billy Beane and his baseball Sabermetricians, Target's premature targeting of expectant mothers, and lest we forget - fawning references to the zany whizzes over at Google.

Still, the subject is so intensely fascinating that it doesn't mat
May 26, 2016 Coan rated it really liked it
Shelves: data
Big Data is a great book if you don't have a background in the field and want to learn about it. Unlike other 'topical' books, it does give some debate on the downsides of the focus topic and predictions on how these may be overcome in the future.

In particular, I liked the examples used, plain language and thoughts on where the field is going.

Unfortunately, being somewhat of a nerd, I chased up several websites and companies referenced in the text to learn more and (perhaps being the nature of t
Pradeep Nair
Oct 12, 2015 Pradeep Nair rated it really liked it
The book tells you a lot about Big Data, the ubiquitous term nowadays.

There is so much of data being generated in the form of text, photos, and videos. Add to that the tons of personal data relating to whenever we do on our phone, like our location, what and how we are reading, listening, surfing the net, using different apps, etc.

Every minute detail of the way we use different apps are relayed back to the developers to get an understanding of the efficiency of the product. Everyone, not just
Rajat TWIT
Thanks to the burgeoning Internet and the interwoven lives of people with the net world, we have so much of Data available that Google helped in a health emergency recently. That is how this book starts and this is the story it tells. Our every action of regular life creates a sort of data, which ultimately can be used to regulate, observe, predict and prepare a lot of things. From out air journeys to the bank transactions to the online searches, everything can be collected in the form of data, ...more
Dennis Daniels
Having read some of the critiques below I have to wonder, what other books on big data can people recommend?

That said, I'm a quarter way done and have discovered a number of interesting sites and read dozens of support pages to better understand what is being discussed. So far, I'm enjoying it.


Finished it. I originally gave it four stars but now just three.

I feel that the author would have been better served by a stronger editor. There is quite a bit of repetition in the book. For only 2
Apr 26, 2016 Liz rated it liked it
Shelves: thorny-problems
Well-researched and well-written, this guidebook to the (dystopian?) future is intriguing, mind-bending, and alarming, all at the same time.

The authors explain that our economy and society are undergoing a massive upheaval, akin to the industrial revolution. “Representative sampling” used to be the norm, and researchers tightly controlled variables to isolate why something was occurring. Thanks to the massive increase in computer processing power, very inexpensive storage, and diverse types of d
Dr. Lloyd E. Campbell
Very padded, He covers the same information three times. For me he didn't make the case for big data being as influential as he thinks it will be. I would like to read a clearly defined statement about areas of application and other areas. I think he minimizes causation and over states correlations. I don' understand a scientific method without hypotheses, ideas coming from the data like ooze and how data has improved decision making in N=All situations. Baseball using N=all hasn't done well and ...more
Aug 26, 2013 Wendy rated it liked it
As an ex-nerd, I've been spending less and less time thinking about and working with computers and networks professionally. I'd heard the term "Big Data", and knew approximately what it meant. This book was a surprize. It explained in lay terms what Big Data is, how it can be used, the implications for businesses and governments, and how it is different from the data bases that we have used for decades. It uses explicit and clear examples. It is a great read for anyone who wants to know what the ...more
Nov 13, 2015 Ria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very thought provoking and well considered, Big Data was cleverly structured. In my current role there is lots that can be learned from this book - the need to move from narrow samples and focusing on the why, to embracing the messiness of large rafts of data and determining what is shown. The sensationalist in me was fascinated by how data can be used for ill and the writers were firm in their views that data must never be used in isolation without human interpretation. Lots of food for thought ...more
Apr 06, 2014 Grumpus rated it liked it
The first half of the book was great but it really took effort to get through the second half. Essentially, the take away from this book can be summarized by this quote:

“There is a treasure hunt under way, driven by the insights to be extracted from data and the dormant value that can be unleashed by a shift from causation to correlation.”

All-in-all, useful information for my purposes as I hope to play a role in the analysis and dissemination of Big Data at my company.

Hồng Sơn
Cuốn sách giới thiệu về những ứng dụng của Dữ liệu lớn trong việc cải thiện khả năng dự báo, nâng cao chất lượng cung ứng sản phẩm dịch vụ, giảm thiểu rủi ro,... đồng thời giới thiệu về xu hướng phát triển và khả năng ảnh hưởng của Dữ liệu lớn trong các lĩnh vực của đời sống trong thời gian tới, kèm theo đó là những nguy cơ và thách thức đối với quyền tự do cá nhân khi lĩnh vực Dữ liệu lớn phát triển tới một khả năng nhất định.

Mặc dù cuốn sách đánh giá việc phân tích, xây dựng thuật toán xử lý d
Feb 05, 2014 Raghu rated it really liked it
The first time I came across the idea of quantity transforming into quality was when I read Friedrich Engels' 'Dialectics of Nature' a long while ago. This book on 'Big Data' elaborates on that principle by showing how 'gems of insight' emerge when you let computers crunch vast stores of information using its algorithmic power. By processing large volumes of data, we are now able to save money on airline tickets, predict flu outbreaks, enable health insurance firms to provide coverage without a ...more
Marcos Feole
May 10, 2015 Marcos Feole rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2015
This is a book that aims to explain to a very non-technical audience what kinds of uses have big data technologies for companies, governments and individuals.

The book repeats itself a lot (really, a lot) and it's not that well written, so it's very hard to read it through. But if you are really interested in big data, you should put some effort and read it anyway. I wouldn't recommend it to people that are not that interested in the subject.

I personally found the first chapter very exciting and
Long Tùng
Jul 14, 2015 Long Tùng rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Actually nothing is new in this book. Way too long and repetitive. The book should have been only 30 pages instead of 300.
Sorry but it's a waste of time.
Feb 09, 2014 Erik-Jan rated it really liked it
The authors have written an highly interesting book which is a good introduction to a topic I didn't know much about. For sure the book gives an accurate and complete introduction to the topic of big data. The book discusses not only the data but also the people handling the data and enterpreneurs building new business models. The book is filled with a lot of convincing examples of the use of big data within commercial, political and societal environments. I really liked the part in which they t ...more
Don O'goodreader
RIP: Scientific Revolution - da Vinci to von Neumann - the short reign of cause and effect. If you read only one non-fiction book this year, this is it.

For 100s of millions of years, correlation has been the natural heuristic of all intelligent behavior, The driver behind evolution is mindless correlation. All that matters is what survives with not consideration of "why?" Then came the scientific revolution and the scientific method and a demand to understand "why?"

Curiosity and discovery have c
May 05, 2013 Mike rated it liked it
Good, if repetitive, introduction to big data. Humans have always searched for the causes behind events or phenomena, and have developed sampling and math techniques to determine cause. Big data upends all this, because computing power and storage are fast an cheap enough to enable us to use all of the dataset, not small samples (n=all). This uncovers correlations, not causes, but in more and more cases we will have to be satisfied with knowing "what", but not "why". Everything in the world is b ...more
May 01, 2013 Joshua rated it it was ok
This breathless look at Big Data was a fine survey of the concepts behind the buzzword of the day. But it failed to question the successes that it cites as evidence of the sheer amazingness of Big Data. (To be sure, these is plenty to be amazed with). The book awkwardly starts off with Google Flu Trends, an impressive example of how the company could predict where the flu was spreading based on what people were searching for on the Internet. I assume that the major failure of the system to accur ...more
Nov 16, 2014 Aashish rated it liked it
This is a book of contrasts. The first part of the book establishes the key principles behind big data and its use: not looking at sampling but using data in its entirety, focusing on correlation and not causation and that discarding sampling bias in statistical studies is critical going forward. While one can debate the merit of each individual assertion, this part of the book is well articulated. The author uses a mix of theory and practical situations to explain the points.

The second part rea
Mohsin Shiraz
Oct 06, 2015 Mohsin Shiraz rated it it was amazing
A great non-technical book on big data.For those who are even a bit interested to know about what exactly is big data. How it has evolved? What are its risks? Why do companies need so much data? Why we are slowly moving away from exactitude? How we get the recommendations when we shop anything ranging from books,tickets,clothes,etc.? The author has put myriad of examples which helps you easily understand the concept.For those who want to go into the depth, the author has compiled thousands of so ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Leigh rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This is a reasonably good introduction to Big Data. It describes the subject from the applications and impact point of view. You come away with a sense of how Big Data is changing business and society and of some of the issues. It is anecdotal in style; while easily read, it doesn't put things in perspective. How much economic impact is Big Data really having?

I was disappointed that there was very little discussion of the methods of data analytics (excusable in a non-technical book), and no rec
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Big Data 2 5 Jun 08, 2013 04:36AM  
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VIKTOR MAYER-SCHÖNBERGER is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University. A widely recognized authority on big data, he is the author of over a hundred articles and eight books, of which the most recent is Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. He is on the advisory boards of corporations and organizations around the world, inclu ...more
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“Sometimes the constraints that we live with, and presume are the same for everything, are really only functions of the scale in which we operate.” 3 likes
“The very idea of penalizing based on propensities is nauseating. To accuse a person of some possible future behavior is to negate the very foundation of justice: that one must have done something before we can hold him accountable for it. After all, thinking bad things is not illegal, doing them is. It is a fundamental tenet of our society that individual responsibility is tied to individual choice of action. [...] Were perfect predictions possible, they would deny human volition, our ability to live our lives freely. Also, ironically, by depriving us of choice they would exculpate us from any responsibility.” 3 likes
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