Social Media, Genomics Driving Data Tsunami

Published on February 18, 2011
by Russell Garland

The social media wave is being followed by a big data tsunami.

Ok, the imagery is getting a little outlandish, but the flood of information that must be stored and analyzed is generating excitement, especially in Boston, where many in the tech world worry that they were at the beach while Silicon Valley and New York enjoyed the fruits of the Web 2.0 revolution.

Social networking companies such as Facebook and Twitter are generating terabytes of content, IDC analyst David Reinsel said during a keynote Thursday at the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council’s Big Data Summit in Burlington, Mass. For example, three billion photos each month are uploaded to Facebook for a total of 3,600 terabytes per year. (A terabyte equals one trillion bytes.)

More important than content creation, he said, is content consumption, which involves vaster amounts of data: “Consumption is what’s driving big IT…Consumption is what drives traffic to your website, and that’s what gets you ad revenue…It demands analytics.

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