I think the main objection I’ve heard to tech analysis, despite the good work it does, is that it doesn’t take “big data” into account. Some people just say it would be impossible to analyze the data “throughly”. This is not really true.
We could analyze data on a much larger scale than a million people and still be happy with our initial findings. A lot of our work has been in terms of big data analytics and data exploration, so much so that we have several datasets that are about twice as large as we could reasonably analyze using a single person’s data.
In the same vein, we have many systems which require more than 1 million users to even run a “normal” analysis. We could analyze these systems for a large portion of their lives, and still come out with a better explanation of how they work.
As an example, we developed a predictive analysis software which could predict the success of an advertisement over time and was based on a sample of millions of observations. Although they were large-scale enough to be analyzed on a million users, we had a significant amount of information that was necessary to develop and refine the tool so that it could be useful across a much larger number of users.
The real challenge is not “big data analytics” per say, but to analyze data in a way that is scalable, and to make our predictions as accurate as we can, which is all being done through data mining.
In the end
It is important to consider the value of the research and application of data in itself (what it can and cannot reveal about an issue to a wide range of decision-makers), and the potential that it can add to the well-being and understanding we seek.
Ultimately technology must continue to evolve. While we want to use it in the best ways, we also have to remember that it is a tool, and technology development is in many ways an evolution of human understanding. We are trying to do what we can, but as any expert in any field knows, it’s ultimately up to people to use technology as they see fit to achieve their objectives. And that’s a very high bar.
If you have any questions about tech analysis or other areas you’d like to see a blog post about, please let us know in the comments below and we’ll see what we can do.
A high-profile Republican donor is now taking donations from individuals in the Arab world, according to The Washington Post.
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