A big problem with a lot data analysis right now is that it still treats data points as entities unto themselves, largely disconnected from those around them. However, data needs context in order to be really useful; it’s context that turns disparate data points into a story. Don’t just tell me how many steps I took today or the time of day I’m most active on Facebook, but tell me how that relates to the rest of my life.
And don’t just tell me that someone said he wants to kill Americans. Rather, tell me a story about how much more frequently he’s saying it and how much more inciteful his words are becoming.
The internet of things knows all
The mobile phone in your pocket is tracking your every movement and can also monitor the sounds that are surrounding you. That fitness tracker you’re wearing is identifying you by how you walk. Your smart meter data shows when you’re home, when you’re away and when you’re in the shower. Sensors in everything from toothbrushes to cars are quantifying every aspect of our lives.
This volume of data can still be a lot to deal with in terms of its volume, velocity and variety, and we’re still not quite sure what to do with it even if the right tools were in place. But all sorts of entrepreneurs, powerful institutions and intelligence agents have ideas. The technological pieces are coming along nicely, too. Just sayin’ …
This semantic life
The semantic web lives on; only it’s spreading well beyond our search engines and even our web browsers. Soon enough, we’ll be able to surface relevant content and people simply by highlighting passage of text in whatever we’re reading — web page or not — on any type of device. When we speak to our devices, they’ll not only know what we’re saying, but also what we really want even without the help of specific commands or keywords.
That’s a powerful proposition in a world where we increasingly expect our interactions to be hands-free and our answers to come as fast as our questions. Of course, what’s powerful in the hands of consumers driving in their cars or sitting on their couches is even more powerful in the hands of doctors trying to diagnose difficult diseases or aid workers trying lend a helping hand in places where they don’t know the customs or even speak the language.
(c) 2013, GigaOM.com.