Back in January, Nick Bilton of the New York Times blogged about on how the “topic de jour” at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, was Big Data. Certainly in the run up to this meeting, major news outlets seemed to “discover” this story. Reports on Big Data and its ramifications were published in the New York Times (twice if you count the one after the meeting in February) and aired on NPR… and a quick Google search reveals plenty more.
It’s exciting to know that not just the media, but world leaders in Switzerland have jumped on the Big Data bandwagon. Because as one comment to Bilton’s blog points out, Big Data isn’t new. Data has always been a tremendous asset to organizations, and even in the days when it wasn’t Big (at least by today’s standards), it was still a Big Problem. Take the quote on our website home page from Tim Berners-Lee about his “dream” for the web. He dreamed that dream in 1999, the height of the dotcom boom. Even the inventor of the Internet could see that the web had a ways to go—and that the need for it to evolve would be felt most by web users as they ran up against the differences in the ways computers and humans process data.
A lot has happened since 1999, with one of the keys being efforts to help humans tell computers how to get and find information. We’ve all had experience with keyword-based searches returning exactly what we type in, which may not be what we were trying to find. In this data-rich world, we know what we want to know is out there. Half our time is therefore spent figuring out how to get our search engines and database tools to find it. And that’s just to find information that we know we know. Given that effort, how on earth can we expect to find what we don’t know we don’t know — because that’s the stuff that truly drives innovation!
The Concept Web Alliance, whose technology serves as the foundation for Code-N, was developed in direct response to Berners-Lee’s dream. It turns the “triple” semantic web standard into aggregated assertions encompassing industry knowledge and context, so that concepts rather than words become something that machines can search. It’s a game-changing idea — which seems appropriate given the “seismic shift” that Big Data represents according to statements made in Davos. As the World Economic Forum report concludes, “Concerted action is needed by governments, development organizations and companies to ensure that [Big Data] helps the individuals and communities who create it.” Yep. Code-N is proud to be one of those taking concerted action!