The idea of Big Data may seem like a recent development, but the history of processing large volumes of information goes back nearly a century and a half. In fact, the birth of big data can be traced all the way back to the late 19th century.
In his book, Before the Computer, James Cortada points to the U.S. Census of 1890 as a milestone in the history of modern data processing. Cortada writes,
“No other occurrence so clearly symbolized the start of the age of mechanized data handling. Before the end of that year machines had tabulated all 62,622,250 souls in the United States … saving the bureau $5 million over manual methods while cutting sharply the time to do the job. Additional analysis of other variables with machines meant that the Census of 1890 could be completed within two years, as opposed to nearly ten years taken for fewer data variables and a smaller population in the previous census.”
While that may have been the start of Big Data processing, technology has made it much more accessible. So what does all this data mean for society as a whole?
In this brief video, Kenneth Cukier – co-author of Big Data: A Revolution that Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think – explores “datafication” and how daily interactions of living things can be rendered into a data format and put to social use.
For more great insight on getting the most out of Big Data, make sure to register for our upcoming webinar with Galvin Technologies, “Using Data and Content to Find the Ideal Customer.” Register today and join our conversation on big data and content Wednesday, May 15 at noon.