What is Big Data?

They say that curiosity is the cure for boredom, and if you’ve ever tried to find specific and detailed information using one of the popular search engines, you’ve probably spent your share of hours in front of the computer screen frustrated.  It seems as though you should be able to find relevant websites and databases, but your search results return many different websites with the exact same information. What many people don’t know is that beyond their online presence on Facebook, YouTube and Google there is a vast wealth of knowledge waiting to be discovered. This information is commonly referred to as big data, and is largely inaccessible to conventional web users.

What is big data?

The term big data refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed by regular search engines.  Search engines like Google or Yahoo! are actually web spiders.   When you type in a search term, the web spiders crawl through trails of hyperlinks and give you an index of pages.  This works well for searching the surface of the web, but the internet goes much deeper, and there are many places that web spiders cannot enter.

Tip of the iceberg

What web crawlers are able to access is really only the tip of the iceberg, and no one knows for sure how deep the iceberg goes. Most of big data is raw data that does not include the hyperlinks that web spiders rely on to index sites. Library databases, websites that password protected or have time-limited access, private networks of organizations, and websites that are new are all excluded from search engine results.  These pages are not necessarily inaccessible, but a typical web user is not aware of their existence, or where to find them, so they do not have access to the sites.

Big data is a ‘big deal’

Undoubtedly, there are some people out there who are happy with what they can find on the popular search engines. But for those of you who are looking for complex or obscure information, big data could prove to be an invaluable resource. With the number of hidden databases connected to the web estimated to be in the millions, big data consists of research statistics, records, documents and files that could be invaluable to businesses and web users alike. Fortunately, there is a way for you to be able to gain access to the wealth of information contained in big data. Through the use of specialized web analytic tools, you can gain entry to the hidden corners of the internet and access a wealth of information that most people don’t even know exists.



Photo courtesy of AlphachimpStudio