Leaks of highly classified National Security Agency documents detailing the intelligence organization's international surveillance program have introduced many members of the public to terms like "metadata" for the first time — leaving some frustratingly confused or resigned to apathy.
But in spite of their complexity, big data tools shouldn't be so intimidating. Indeed, average people use them every day, whether it's to follow their favorite athletes or avoid heavy traffic.
The information technology industry’s infatuation with "big data" — meaning, vast collections of information that would be unwieldy without sophisticated tools that store, index and analyze them efficiently — has grown since advances in storage technology have sped up the time it takes to process enormous amounts of data.
The benefits of big data technology have mostly been enjoyed by businesses and, it's now clear, the intelligence community. But since last February, basketball fans have become quite familiar with the tools' power, too.
At stats.nba.com, fans can use big data analytics to delve into professional basketball stats from as long ago as 1946, giving them the facts to settle an argument or craft a statisically perfect fantasy team. The basketball-obsessed looking for historic hoops trends can find up to 4.5 quadrillion statistical combinations — that’s 4,500,000,000,000,000 numerical amalgamations.