EMC explains making big data more concrete to general public

Summary:EMC's VP of corporate sustainability explains that that big data should be understood as a lot more than just exabytes of new information.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Big data is a hot trend in the technology world that other industries are picking up on these days. But for many people outside of IT and analytics, it's not much more than that -- just a buzz topic, if they're even aware of it at all.

Kathrin Winkler, EMC's vice president of corporate sustainability, explained during the Verge @ Greenbuild summit on Monday morning about how to make big data more concrete to the general public.

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"The definition of big data in geek land is data sets that are so large that they actually break traditional IT infrastructures. But I don't think that tells the story," Winkler remarked. She added that it's about the variety of data sources, different types of data, and the analytics that allow us to use the data to discern new patterns.

Winkler cited that in 2000, the world generated two exabytes of new information. In 2011, she said the world was creating data at a rate of more than two exabytes of new information everyday.

"We are surrounded by data. Lots and lots of data," Winkler said, describing that is data from not only our texts, Tweets and emails, but also pacemakers, parking spaces and solar panels.

Winkler briefly outlined EMC's overall strategy, dubbed "The Human Face of Big Data," which is designed make big data more comprehensible for everyday Internet users. That strategy includes a book of the same name being published later this month, which features images from more than 150 photojournalists worldwide, demonstrating that basically every moment of our lives can now be chronicled in the cloud.

For instance, Winkler mentioned that she recently saw a photo of her baby niece on Facebook, joking that she's not sure how the niece will feel about that photo being so public when she's 16 and going on dates.

Essentially, Winkler's point is that "big data" is not just a technical term, but transforming everyone's lives around the world because "it's escaping the data center."

Topics: Big Data, Data Centers, Data Management, EMC

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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