Big Data: Does Size Matter?

Timandra Harkness. Bloomsbury Sigma, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4729-2005-8
Harkness, a London-based science writer and comedian whose repertoire features a stand-up comedy routine on neuroscience, tackles the subject of Big Data, delving into how it is collected and used, its value, its potential dangers, and the questions its uses raise for modern society. Harkness is particularly adept at plucking out interesting examples that capture how Big Data is transforming the world. She clearly describes the work of researchers who hope to develop a global database of insects to the fight against malaria and other diseases, how the CERN atom smasher collects data when searching for exotic quantum particles, and the ways the creators of the Tinder app collect information about each and every one of its users. These examples—along with others explaining the use of Big Data by business entities, police and fire departments, and political parties—provide a comprehensive and accessible overview of the ubiquity of data collection in modern society. Harkness wisely notes the limitations and inherent dangers of using Big Data, exploring fears of a “Big Brother” society and individuals’ loss of privacy in a balanced and thoughtful way. Throughout, Harkness puts her comedian persona to good use, and her clever asides make this tour of Big Data both smart and fun. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2016
Release date: 07/12/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4729-2007-2
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4729-3583-0
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4729-2006-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-5436-2539-4
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