What do Facebook, Groupon and biotech firm Human Genome Sciences have in common? They all rely on massive amounts of data to design their products. Terabytes and even of information about consumers or about genetic sequences can be harnessed and crunched.
The practice is called big data, and as the term suggests, it is huge in both scope and power. Analyzing big data enables anything from predicting prices to catching criminals, and has the potential to impact many industries.
Because of the ability to cheaply process terabytes of information, companies can analyze all kinds of things that weren't possible before, like 's price prediction tool that exposes the surprising volatility of consumer electronic prices.
One way to understand how big data works is to think about your daily life. You write an email, call your boss, pass a security camera, maybe buy a plane ticket online. Taken alone, this is disjointed, boring information. To Elizabeth Charnock, it makes up your digital character...