Happy Bastille Day

Bastille Day, also known as French National Day or La Fête Nationale, marks the day in 1789 the Bastille in Paris was stormed by common folk. It’s significance is that it marks the beginning of the French Revolution.

The day always brings me back to a quotes by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Jefferson wrote

“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty . . . And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

Ben Franklin is attributed to saying “We need a revolution every 200 years, because all governments become stale and corrupt after 200 years

Revolution of their time was meant guns and violence. Revolution of our time can take on may other forms and we have seen several “revolutions” in the past 200 years.

I am blessed to have gotten involved early in the technology revolution that has happened in the past 50 years. If we look at how technology has helped revolutionize government and daily life, it’s benefits abound. To Mr Jeffersons point at the time of his writing, people could not be well informed. Information exchange was a privilege and well controlled. That has changed.

Today with the Internet and the free flow of information, people can be well informed. But as we also find out, this brings new challenges. Free flow has now lead to free fall. When jumping out of that perfectly good airplane, the ability to stop, go faster or turn, is feeble at best. Like the parachute jumper, we need additional equipment to make sure we land smoothly where we intend to.

Free Fall: How large is the disk drive on the computer you are reading this blog on? How much storage is on the server this is stored on? And how much information storage is generated on the internet every day.  All of these bring to thought how much information is now available and kept. But the term information overload has become an understatement. Where as our founding fathers saw an issue getting information into the hands of the people. Today, the issue has become getting the relevant information into the hands of the people. I can, and have, written on what we can do with Big Data today. It is developing but we are still looking for the true revolution that frees us from the oppression of Big Data.

I was at a conference recently when talking about analytics on some loyalty club information. The IT persons response was “we just use Hadoop for that.” Though it could technically be correct, this to me has as much meaning as “we just use a computer for that”

The information revolution we need today involves fuzzy logic, new equations and most of all, a clear idea from the users what is data, what is information, and what is represents value. With recent event, some fact checking verification or trust algorithm is needed. I’ve talked about normalizing data collected from the Internet of Things. Manipulating the data to the point it becomes value is one of the biggest business opportunities today.

 

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