The Oxford English Dictionary and Big Data
The Oxford English Dictionary has announced its last updates, which include 1200 newly revised and updated words. Among them, the term ‘Big Data’ appears with the following definition: “data a very large size, typically to the extent that its manipulation and management present significant logistical challenges“. Interestingly, the earliest use of the term dates back to 1980 when the Sociologist Charles Tilly in his working paper surveying “The old new social history and the new old social history” ” wrote that “none of the big questions has actually yielded to the bludgeoning of the big-data people.” Although Tilly certainly did not take up the current meaning of “Big Data”, he made reference to Lawrence Stone‘s discussion on the use of quantitative methods in historical research for making insightful generalization about the past. It seems to me that methodological barriers and debates between (Pure and Applied – forgive me for such improper differentiation of the Scientific Practice) Sciences and Social Sciences has found one more common ground. Slightly sidetracked by some reminiscences from my Philosophy degree, the influential lecture “The Two Cultures” by the novelist Charles Percy Snow came to my mind. Will the “Big Data Culture” be the new “lingua franca”?
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