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Why “Big Data” is a Big Deal

Data now flows so fast that the total accumulation of the past two years—a zettabyte—dwarfs the prior record of human civilization. “There is a Big Data revolution,” says Weatherhead University Professor Gary King. But it is not the quantity of data that is revolutionary. “The Big Data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.”

"The story follows a similar pattern in every field, King asserts. The leaders are qualitative experts in their field. Then a statistical researcher who doesn’t know the details of the field comes in and, using modern data analysis, adds tremendous insight and value.

As an example, he describes how Kevin Quinn, formerly an assistant professor of government at Harvard, ran a contest comparing his statistical model to the qualitative judgments of 87 law professors to see which could best predict the outcome of all the Supreme Court cases in a year. The outcome was no contest: Whenever sufficient information can be quantified, modern statistical methods will outperform an individual or small group of people every time." Read entire article here>