Does Big Data Overlook Human Behavior?


I am becoming skeptical about the promises of Big Data.

Surprised? So am I.

The Big Data worldview tends to see information as a natural resource, like oil. It emerges from some chemical or physical reaction, and merely awaits our “mining” of its value.

Maybe this has some merit in the “Internet of Things” movement. We can place sensors in a factory and better measure temperature, for example.

But with human behavior? For this, we need theory. We need to hypothesize causal relationships and develop principles of human behavior.

Remember, human-generated behavior is not a natural resource. It is highly prone to measurement and methodological influences. Forget this and you overlook the underlying human behavior of your data. 

Yes, it’s great to have all this data. But without strong theory and methodology, it amounts to nothing. 

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