site-img5The word big is intended to convey images of large or enormous size, importance or complexity. The word has been popularized to make certain concept more acceptable to a justifiably skeptical public. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation established a whole program of Big Ideas to capture what it terms the ‘smartest stuff on television, radio and online.’ Various websites have compiled listings of the top 50 or top 100 big ideas of the 21st or 20th century or for all time. The Smithonian maintains a running list of big ideas and innovations (
Against a background of big ideas, connectivity and digital innovations it seemed just a matter of time before ‘big data’ entered the scene of large things. We can now capture data on just about everything that exists, moves and has potential to be different at some time in the future. Capture, storage, retrieval, search, sharing and transfer of data is becoming a mainstream part of information management. Analysis and visualization is enabling new insights about things work. The ‘Internet of things’ and everything is emerging or as one analyst describes it ‘we are now in the new digital industrial economy, every budget is an IT budget, and every company an IT company.’
It seems inevitable that ‘big mistakes’ might start to emerge from so many big ideas and big lumps of information that might turn out to be wrong. Innovation, for one thing, encourages riskier activity. That’s not to suggest mistakes have not been made in the past. We have only to look at the nuclear situation unfolding and being repaired at Fukushima. Would this have happened with better and more transparent information management systems? Could the global financial system have been avoided with better and more transparent information systems?