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Big Scary Data

In a digital world, there will always be much opportunity combined with a great risk. This comes naturally as a result of technological advancements making life easier for both people trying to influence the world for good, and those trying to influence it for bad.

The constant battle is trying to maximize the opportunities these good intentioned individuals have, while limiting the power available to bad individuals. One area we see this battleground especially is in big data.

Big data is the concept of complex, large amounts of information used in many areas, specifically online marketing and geofencing. With basic biographical information, companies can use targeted marketing strategies to personalize the ads they are showing digitally to consumers. This allows for less ad revenue to be wasted on individuals not interested in a particular product or service they are seeing.

This is why you've probably noticed ads strikingly similar to your search history or even to what you've been talking about and seeing on your social media feeds. This is big data at work.

From a marketing perspective, this is a good thing, as it more efficiently brings products to the attention of consumers who would be interested. This results in more sales, and more successful marketing efforts. We can also make the argument that it's good for consumers too, who don't need to search far for products that will interest them, and won't waste a lot of time scrolling through irrelevant ads.

But like anything, big data can be used for good, or it can be used for bad. Hackers and scammers use this concept to get a hold of your information. It becomes a privacy concern, when it initially should have just been a better way to connect people and what interests them.

Ultimately, what I've learned this semester is that big data is everywhere, in every industry. Not just from a marketing point of view, but in education, sports, politics, even video games. Wherever there is money to be made, big data will be there also to aid the effort.

The future of big data is concerning and exhilarating, a strange dichotomy. On one hand, it is scary to think just how much technology could expand to give people who are up to no good online a chance to acquire our personal information. With how much shopping we do especially, and our taxes, and everything else we enter private information to, you have to wonder what advancements meant to protect us might actually do to compromise our security.

But quite possibly the prevailing perspective is the excitement of a changing digital world with many opportunities to market, interact, and perform tasks efficiently. If we focus on how much of that we can do, the big scary concept of big data will seem a whole lot more inviting, as it was originally intended to be.

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