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   Big Data
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
30 Jul 2013

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In his first book Delete - The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age, Victor Mayer-Schonberger had shocked readers with the immortal power of the internet. 'Nothing ever gets deleted', he had rightfully argued. Taking the argument further he now elaborates the revolutionary power of 'big data', making information digitization the new basis of life. Since people willingly share information online, the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter are inundated with enormous data to extract new insights or create new forms of value. Citing numerous instances where trends and predictions out of big data analysis has been put to economic use, datafication has helped in interpreting attitudes, sentiments and even human behaviour like never before. Some 400 million tweets a day certainly help usher new insights on peoplesí moods, interests and preferences.

Processed data has started to look like a new resource and it can be processed again and again to meet diverse needs. It is said that every Facebook user is worth around $100, since users are the source of information in the first place. Only if the users realise the value of their 'likes' can they collectively bargain to get paid for their voluntary contribition? Not in too distant a future, such a scenario will emerge when big data will create an 'information economy' on its own. It even exists today, but has been capitalised by those who not only posess fastest computers but have servers with incredible storage capacity as well.

Like his previous book, Victor Mayer-Schonberger has come out with yet another ground-breaking book which portrays all aspects of what the emerging big data revolution may be all about. While seizing rewards of this incredible evolution, the potential risks associated with misappropriation of data must also be appreciated. For big data to ensure privacy, need for prior consent, opting out and anonymization have to be taken as policy prescription against its misuse.

Big Data is an exhaustive narrative on the virtues and risks associated with the emerging world of datafication. Full of anecdotal stories on latest developments, Big Data is a must read book.

Big Data
by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier
Hachette India, Delhi
Extent; 242, Price: Rs 499

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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