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  • Writer's pictureHéctor García

The data graveyard

Who are you? I’m data from a big company

  • Hi, what’s up?

  • Sorry, who are you?

  • I’m data from a big company

  • No way!

  • Hard to believe, I know.

  • How’s it going?

  • Not great, to be honest. They move me around, talk about me, some even buy me expensive clothes, fancy meals, luxury cars, jewels... But they hardly ever do anything useful with me.

  • Ha ha, what a situation. Is it the same for all of you?

  • Well, not really, some are in an even worse place. I can’t bring myself to say its name.

  • Go on, tell me.

  • OK, lots are in... The “Data Graveyard”.

  • Jees, it sends a shiver down my spine.

  • Yes, it’s a bad place. That’s where the nothing is.

  • Does anyone visit you there?

  • Sometimes, less and less. One regular visitor was “Iron and Plastic” but apparently he’s fashionable now. Especially for something they call pilot projects, which are basically when people don’t have much of a clue and keep on trying for years.

  • Now you mention it I saw “Iron and Plastic” the other day and he’s better than ever. I think he went to Turkey.

  • For sure. Great hair.

  • There’s something I don’t get, don’t they say that big companies know all about us because of you?

  • They say that’s not true. It will be true but it’s not, for now.

  • Why?

  • Because they ask about my age, weight, size, profession etc., but they don’t ask what really matters.

  • And what really matters?

  • Understanding that I’m nothing if I’m not linked to others that are different to me. They should ask how I’ve changed, how I’m going to evolve, compare me with where and when.

  • So, what do people think about?

  • They think from inside or outside the box, but the key is thinking without prejudice. I’m nothing and I can be everything.

  • Wow, that sounds deep.

  • That’s right, there aren’t enough people who know how to do it. They want to kill me every day. I’m scared, I’m young and I don’t want to go to the data graveyard. My binary cousins are there.

  • But seriously, don’t big companies already know all about you? It’s hard to believe.

  • Think about it, the most highly developed companies in the world offer you recommended shopping, ads, music, products and they often get it wrong or say something obvious or too general. And we’re talking about the most advanced ones. Imagine the rest.

  • You’re persuading me.

  • It’s true. I see it every day.

  • Well, it’s getting late, I’d better go.

  • Hang on, you can’t leave without telling me who the heck you are!

  • I’m sorry to tell you like this. I’m someone with the same problems as you, and big time.

  • But who are you?

  • I’m your father. I’m Big Data.

In the last 15 years I’ve been lucky enough to work with millions of data from multinational companies in sectors such as technology, telecommunications, oil and energy, consumer goods, the aerospace industry, transport, financial services, the automotive industry, etc. And apart from a few honourable exceptions, there’s a lot of work left to be done.

Part of this explosion of information means we know that each second millions of data are generated on the internet, and every kind of sensor is now available: over 25,000 people around the world have already inserted a chip with NFC or RFID technology under the skin in their hands to pay for transport, open electronic locks, switch on devices and call a specific number from a mobile phone. Everyone needs order – order that means you can ask data the right questions so that they can be used to make progress and improve people’s quality of life. That’s why we need specialists, people with extensive knowledge in specific topics, people with subject area and human specialisation. Philosophers, lawyers, environmentalists, geographers, architects, philologists, physicists, mathematicians, historians and sociologists etc. will be the people who have to help the machines so we can live longer and better.

We’re on the cusp of a new era and technology shouldn’t leave subject knowledge in the shade. The solution is combining both strengths. We should unite technology and subject specialisation. We’re going to live in hybrid worlds: embrace the chaos, embrace the order! Let’s keep on going!

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