Big Data Explained Through Legos

What is big data? The term is thrown around quite a bit, but the actual explanation around big data can quickly reach levels of complexity beyond our comprehension. Knowledgent’s big data expert, Gerard Dwan, attempted to simplify the trend for a crowd gathered at the Microsoft New England Research and Design Center during this week’s Data Festival.

’Gartner actually categorizes it in three ways,’ Dwan said. ’It’s volume, velocity and variety -- and they actually put a fourth one on there, it’s called complexity. And I think if you have the first three, the fourth is kind of a given.’

Dwan said a common misconception about big data is that the term only describes tools.

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’Big data is not Hadoop, right. It’s about really, the data itself, and the complexity of the data,’ Dwan said.

Dwan used an unconventional explanation to get ’tangible’ about big data: Legos.

’This is essentially what people think of when they think of a big data ecosystem. It’s a bunch of different-colored, different-shaped Lego blocks. It’s all out there. And then what big data is trying to perform and try to do here is get it sorted. We want to say, hey you know, here’s a few different colors here and we’ll sort it by color. Obviously, if you’re a data scientist you can sort by any number of attributes of these Lego blocks,’ said Dwan.

’We can then arrange them in a right way. And then we can also present them visually. So this is kind of the stepping stone of what big data processing and data science is,’ he said.