David Bodanis

Viral Statistics

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think

By

John Murray 242pp £20 order from our bookshop

Most books about the internet are written by excitable youngsters who inhabit the bodies of middle-aged men. This one is different, for the authors have identified one of the very rare moments when a fundamental shift in government, business and even our view of causality is taking place.

The reason ‘Big Data’ is so important is that, unlike email or even Facebook, it’s not just a mechanism that lets us do, albeit more efficiently, what we were always going to do – send messages, say, or link with friends. Instead, it’s more like the invention of the microscope, or financial accounting, or time-lapse photography: it’s a new tool that allows us to see activities hitherto invisible to human awareness.

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