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Data, Data Everywhere

Economist (02/25/10)

The explosion of digital information has brought with it major benefits as well as drawbacks, and among the latter is the paucity of storage space to house all that data and the increasing difficulty of guaranteeing data security and shielding privacy.  Factors underlying the surfeit of information include technological innovations, coupled with plummeting prices for digital devices.  The volume of digital information increases by a factor of 10 every five years, and Cisco projects that the amount of traffic streaming over the Internet annually will balloon to 667 exabytes by 2013.  Accompanying the growth of data is the advent of data scientists, who combine the talents of software programmers, statisticians, and storytellers/artists to sift meaning out of the information deluge.  Although the increasing digitization of the world is likely to bring advantages to all kinds of fields and industries via data aggregation and analysis, currently the data flood has greatly contributed to major problems such as the recent financial crisis, where it became apparent that banks and rating agencies were long reliant on models which, although they required a massive amount of data to be fed in, did not mirror actual financial risk.


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