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Parsing Silver's meaning

Nate Silver

Analytics expert Nate Silver addresses the Adobe Government Assembly. (FCW photo by Camille Tuutti)

Reflecting on comments from Nate Silver (Analytics guru Nate Silver offers advice for agencies), a reader commented: I like the comment [in the article] : "As a tool, big data can unlock all kinds of insights from massive amounts of data, but small changes in the way we approach humongous data sets can drastically change outcomes. Seemingly minor details should never be overlooked," Silver said.  As any expert in charts can tell you, "The way you look at data all depends on what you want the data to say.'" (Yes, I know that was not [Silver's] intent, but it is true none the less.)

Frank Konkel responds: I think Silver was speaking about input variables rather than actual output data. As a summary, when the design parameters we derive results from big data sets change just a little, the end result can yield a wildly different outcome. Therefore, his statement to "sweat the small stuff in big data" applies.

Posted by Frank Konkel on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM


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