Creepy data

August 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Both HBR (“Pushing the limits of personalization“) and the New Yorker (“Make me a match“) had related articles on the creepiness of Big Data. The part that caught my eye was from the new book Dataclysm (by Christian Rudder – founder of OkCupid):

Just from your pattern of likes on Facebook (and without relying on status updates or comments), an algorithm can determine with eighty-eight-per-cent accuracy whether you are straight or gay. Sixty per cent of the time, it can tell whether your parents were divorced before you turned twenty-one.

Wow.

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Hadoop – under the covers

August 18, 2014 Leave a comment

There’s a lot of pablum about Big Data. Most of it is either too high level (i.e. Big Data is going to save the world) or too deep (i.e. developer documentation). So it was nice coming across this article on how Hadoop actually works under the covers. It’s probably the clearest explanation I’ve ever seen.

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The real big data battle

There’s a lot of talk in enterprise clients about the “right” big data tools/platforms (e.g. Cloudera vs. Hortonworks vs. MapR etc). I think this kind of discussion misses the point. The war is not going to be won by picking the right platform/tools.

The real war in Big Data is of course for the talent. Both for engineers (who can understand the rapidly evolving software space) and for the data scientists (who can do something useful with the data). So it was not really a surprise when I saw the “whiteboard” at the Hadoop conference in California (over the last few days) full of big data jobs. (There were actually 3 such whiteboards, full of jobs.)

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This is what companies should be worried about.

 

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Restructuring consultant beware?

Interesting little article in the Economist about how McKinsey is moving into the restructuring consulting space (typically dominated by Alvarez & Marsal and Alix Partners). Although the incumbents are saying (rightly) that one needs experienced hands (and not just smart young consultants), there’s no reason why the strategy firms can’t hire experienced hires.

Digital disruption: Airbnb covers 99% of the world; Starwood covers ~50%

Yet another example of digital disruption, this time from the hotel industry. Fast Company has an article about AirBNB (“the room sharing company”) that has some interesting data, including the fact that AirBNB now is available in 99% of the countries world wide. Compare this to its nearest rivals (Intercontinental and Starwood which only covers ~50%).

airbnb dominates

In addition, AirBNB expects to offer around 1M listings by the end of 2014. Wow.

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Average American spends ~60% of all non-work waking hours watching TV

According to an article the Economist, the average American spends 4.5 hours watching TV every day. Assuming ~8 hours of sleep and ~8 hours of work, this works out to about 60% of all non-work waking hours.

The key question that comes to my mind (as a consultant): How do people have ~5 hours to spend on themselves? :)

 

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Travel: The half a million dollar first class seat

Most consultants travel a lot. I thought it may be interesting to share a nice article from the New Yorker on the history and design of first/business class seats.

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A few points caught my eye:

  • Birtish Airways was the first airline to offer fully flat beds, but not till 1995
  • New first class seats cost ~$500k each

Worth a read (and perhaps weeping over, when you are stuck in seat 22B).

 

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