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#4 from 2013: Numbers Are Never Enough (especially when dealing with Big Data)

Susan Moeller's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by readership in 2013
This post was originally published on January 8, 2013


The newest trend in Big Data is the personal touch.  When both the New York Times and Fast Company have headlines that trumpet: “Sure, Big Data Is Great. But So Is Intuition.” (The Times) and “Without Human Insight, Big Data Is Just A Bunch Of Numbers.” (Fast Company) you know that a major trend is afoot.

So what’s up?

The claims for what Big Data can do have been extraordinary, witness Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson’s seminal article in October in the Harvard Business Review: “Big Data: The Management Revolution,” which began with the showstopper:  “‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure.’”  It’s hard not to feel that Big Data will provide the solutions to everything after that statement.  As the HBR article noted:  “…the recent explosion of digital data is so important. Simply put, because of big data, managers can measure, and hence know, radically more about their businesses, and directly translate that knowledge into improved decision making and performance.”

New global poverty estimates confirm China’s leading role in meeting MDGs

David Dollar's picture

The international community has endorsed the Millenium Development Goal of reducing the poverty rate in the developing world by 50% over the 25 years, 1990-2015.  While the target is arbitrary, it is nonetheless important to have a stretch goal like this to challenge us all to make the world a better place.  To measure progress, naturally we need pretty good estimates of global poverty.  The World Bank is the leading bean counter in this exercise.  It just today released new estimates of global poverty that have the potential to illuminate the progress, but also the potential to confuse a lot of people.  The research department of the World Bank has changed its global poverty line from $1 per day to $1.25 per day and has found about 468 million more poor people than it had previously estimated.  About 135 million of these newly found poor are in China.  How does one make sense of these new numbers?  Here are some pointers: