Explaining Big Data to Kids


Its children’s day in India today and the team at UNExt sends out wishes to all kids everywhere! And because it’s their special day, we thought it would be awesome to do a post especially for them. And of course because the team at UNext kind of walks and talks Data Analytics and Big Data (even in their sleep), the topic is of course Big Data. What we are going to do is try and explain the concept of Big Data in a way that all you kids can understand.

In a way, this post is also for all parents out there. Big Data has exploded and for the next couple of decades, it is going to dominate business all over the globe. As parents we need to start talking to our kids about data and the career opportunities it holds. If we have kids that are number savvy, then we need to encourage them. Kids studying math and statistics are now the cool kids on campus. Recognizing the immense scope of this industry and simply because data is impacting our lives in so many ways, we see schools and universities introducing the subject to its students and making it part of main stream education. So all of us really, need to understand what Big Data is and how it is changing our lives.

There was a really interesting article on cbronline.com that got some Big Data experts to dish out Big Data definitions that a five year old could understand. Here are some of them:

Laurie Miles, head of Analytics at SAS UK & Ireland

“Imagine a giant toy box, filled to the brim with lego bricks, duplo blocks and your favourite characters. Sounds exciting right? You could build all sorts of things, castles, forts, fire engines and even pirate ships. But with a box as big as you are and thousands of bricks all jumbled up it could be pretty difficult to find the right pieces.

“Big data is a lot like that toy box. A big jumble of numbers and words. This makes it very difficult to read and understand without lots of help.

“Say you wanted to build a fire engine. You would need some red bricks, a fireman model, wheels and the ladder for the fire engine. In that jumbled up box it would take you all day to find those bricks. It’s the same when it comes to big data. There is a lot of useful information in those huge data sets but finding it can be difficult.”

Andrew Jennings, chief analytics officer at FICO

“Data is just another word for little bits of ideas. Imagine millions of these little bits of ideas, like stars up in the sky. When you look up at the stars, you see a bunch of tiny lights. But you can also imagine shapes: a warrior over here, a big spoon over there.

“The warrior is an idea, and the stars are data that make up that idea. Now, when people talk about big data, they’re talking about not just the stars you and I can see when we look up, but all the zillions of other stars out there that we might only be able to see through a big telescope. Just imagine what kinds of shapes you could see if you could look at all the stars in the universe. What would that look like?”

Matt Davies, product marketing director at Splunk

“Think of all the books, all the TV programs, all the music, pictures, all the things ever written down and all the drawings ever done available for you to look at and watch whenever you want.

“You’d never have to ask mummy or daddy a question and them say “I don’t know” because they’d be able to find out pretty much anything.

“Imagine being able to ask any question you can think of and being able to get an answer whenever you need it, for example you’d be able to find out anything, ever about Frozen.

“You’d be able to find out every game of Angry Birds ever played, what the score was and how many pigs were squashed.

“You would be able to find out every journey Thomas the Tank Engine has ever taken, who he spoke to and other trains who helped him on his adventures, how they helped, how much coal they used and who was in the train carriages.”

Donald Farmer, Qlik’s VP of product management

“Can you write down your name and your age? I am sure you can. Can you write it down for everyone in your class? Or for everyone in your school? Or everyone in your town? Everyone in the country? Everyone in the world? And then write down their age, their favourite colour, their favourite animal, their favourite TV programmes, almost anything you can think of … for millions and millions of people.

“That’s too much, isn’t it? You can’t do it, and I can’t do it. But some computers can do this, and we call it ‘big data’. Data is all the stuff we are writing down and you can imagine, for millions, billions, gazillions of people it is really BIG.

“What can we do with all this data? We can find patterns. For example, people making television programs may discover that children who like music really like drawing too, so they could make a new program about music and art. Or hospitals could discover that people who like different foods may get sick in different ways as they get older. That could help families and doctors look after our grandparents better.”

Alys Woodard, research analyst for big data at IDC

“When you’re a grown-up, your phone, or your tablet, or your Google Glass, or whatever you have, will know all about you and what you like. Sometimes it will tell you what you did before so you remember to do it again, and other times it will suggest new things for you to do because it works out what you might like. Nowadays this is all new, so we call it “big data”, but by the time you’re grown up it won’t really be called anything, except by people whose job it is to work all the big computers that make it happen. If your phone knows all about you, it’s important that bad people don’t take your phone and find out all about you too.”

Mike Hoskins, CTO at Actian

“Every time you play your favourite video game, your high score has to be saved somewhere so you can show your friends later. Your friends, and everyone else playing the game, want to share their scores, too. All of these scores start to build up – making something called ‘big data.’ Big data is exactly what it sounds like – a lot of information created by a lot of different people. This information adds up every time you play games, surf the internet or post on Facebook. When we keep, compare and share data about your game scores, we can create even cooler games for you and your friends to enjoy.”

Jonathan Hobday, commercial director at Innovise IES

“Lots of new machines are giving us lots of new information that we never had before, like the Coca-Cola machine telling us how many cans have been sold and a mobile phone telling us where the man who refills the machines is.

“This data can tell us really valuable things like who is the best person to refill the machine and when so you get your can of Coke when you want. But… all of this information for the hundreds of Coke machines in thousands of cities with thousands of people refilling are all producing this information. That is an enormous mountain of information, from which we would like to know who is the best person and when is the best time to keep my local Coca-Cola vending machine filled.

“So we need a big machine into which we can tip all of this big data into, crunch it up and produce a small bit of information that is useful to us.”

Am sure this was useful to many of us adults as well. If you want to know more about Big Data take a look at Big Data- The Revolution Impacting us in More Ways Than we Know and Data Analytics Today is also for the Aam Admi. This is the present and it is the future. Let us be informed and be prepared for the Big Data revolution sweeping the globe.

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Big Data- The Revolution Impacting us in More Ways Than we Know

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The Importance of Big Data Training and the Hottest Sectors Using Big Data

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