The White House is going to study Big Data. Here are 5 things it should know

The White House announced via blog post on Thursday that it’s forming working group focused on understanding the promises and pitfalls of big data (with a heavy emphasis on privacy, apparently) and how they might affect government policy, Gigaom reports. Good luck.

However anyone wants to define it, big data is an incredibly complex topic. In part, that’s because it’s not so much a technology as it is the result of improvements and advances in collecting, storing and processing data across the technological landscape.

Add to that the fact that terms like data, privacy and even big can mean very different things depending on the context in which they’re used — and that the big data cat is already about five years out of the bag — and you have a messy situation.

3. Big means nothing. In many cases, getting caught up about the volume of data collected or even the scope is a red herring. In fact, having too much data can be a problem if it overwhelms the systems or analysts working with it. What can be done at scale can also be done at a personal level, which is arguably more problematic. From GPS tracking of criminal suspects to facial recognition apps, from social media to fitness devices, there are just more ways than ever to collect and analyze however much data you need for the job.

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