Issue 2: Ideas About Big Data

big-data (2)

What’s the big deal about big data?

In this second edition of GMNsight: Advancing Grantmaking, we explore one of the hottest new concepts and what it might mean for the philanthropic sector. We have filled this journal with as many questions as answers, with the goal of beginning conversations about big data that share the essential perspective of grantmakers. We also have added links to more articles that offer additional insight and knowledge.

What do we mean by “big data”? “Big data” refers to datasets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze. This definition is intentionally subjective and incorporates a moving definition of how big a dataset needs to be in order to be considered big data–i.e., we don’t define big data in terms of being larger than a certain number of terabytes (thousands of gigabytes). We assume that, as technology advances over time, the size of datasets that qualify as big data will also increase. Also note that the definition can vary by sector, depending on what kinds of software tools are commonly available and what sizes of datasets are common in a particular industry. With those caveats, big data in many sectors today will range from a few dozen terabytes to multiple petabytes (thousands of terabytes)

The Origins of ‘Big Data’: An Etymological Detective Story (The New York Times, Feb. 1, 2013) »