Big Data is omnipresent, yet relatively unknown. It is a technology that affects our everyday lives in so many ways, though most of us do not know it exists. In this blog I attempt to uncover a phenomenon that has become pervasive in many aspects of life and is now impacting, amongst others, the waste, recycling and environmental sectors.
Before offering some insight into what Big Data is, let’s put forward a few examples that are easy to relate to: A 20’s something female updates her relationship status on Facebook from single to engaged. She then begins to see subtle (and sometimes less than subtle) advertising for wedding dress shops, romantic holiday destinations and even hotels in her home vicinity that offer the full wedding package. Now, Facebook do not employ huge teams of data ninjas that monitor your every change in circumstance to then present you with appropriate advertisements, they employ Big Data. Recently, a piece of research from Cambridge University and Microsoft across 58,000 volunteers demonstrated a remarkable ability to predict a person’s age, gender, political affiliation and even sexual orientation just from their “Likes” on Facebook. Apparently clicking “Like” on subjects such as “Britney Spears” or “Desperate Housewives” were among the signs of homosexual orientation! Continue reading