Is Big Data Really the Latest Thing?

Is Big Data Really the Latest Thing?

If you’re like me, you’re constantly reading articles that depict big data as the ‘next big thing’.  Those articles also usually portray big data as something new.  But is it really new?

“No” says Bernhard Warner in a recent BloombergBusinessweek post.  He claims a CIA Analyst named Orrin Clotworthy described “with eerie clarity the promise of data analytics and computer modeling to predict the future” in a just released internal CIA document (Some Far-Out Thoughts on Computers) originally published in the CIA journal, Studies in Intelligence.  When was Mr. Clotworthy’s report originally published?  1962.

The report is an interesting read, providing many examples where the ability to predict human behavior would be a benefit.  He even predicts the invention of artificial intelligence by the year 2000.

But after reading the following section of the report, I wonder if Mr. Clotworthy shouldn’t also be credited with predicting the domain of knowledge management and, specifically, using technology to leverage tacit knowledge by identifying individuals with specific skills or characteristics.  Food for thought:

“Should we decide to do so, we could, over a span of a few years, index personnel knowledge and skills to a degree never before dreamed of, using more advanced forms of electronic data processing.  In a television drama a few months back, a private organization was supposed to have compiled just such data on millions of U.S. citizens.  The story concerned the search by a federal agency for a man who (1) was a barber, (2) knew a lot about stamp-collecting, and (3) could pick locks.  The company found the man, the agency put his talents to use, and by the end of the program Yankee ingenuity had triumphed over a slick international narcotics ring.  The real hero of the story was the computer – they must have used one – that pinpointed the right man for the job.  It may be less than reckless to suggest that a comparable capability to match backgrounds to job requirements might be helpful in intelligence operations.” (page 12)

Does that sound like knowledge management to you?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

  • About the Author

  • Sheila Portrait
    Sheila Taylor
  • Sheila Taylor is a well known consultant, educator, speaker and writer with more than 25 years of experience in the information management (IM) field.

  • Recent Tweets

  • Company News

  • Search Site

  • Archives By Date

  •  Telephone


    (905) 702-8756




    Request A Call

    Case in Point

    That's A Lot of Records!
    Often the requirement for a needs assessment is driven by a specific initiative being considered or an immediate problem to be solved, rather than a general desire to establish a corporate (or organization-wide) IM program. We had a client wanting to improve its management of a specific group of critical records – thousands of member files in paper, microform and digital formats containing hundreds of unique document types.
    Assess, Plan and Schedule
    Ergo reviewed the organization’s current practices for managing those records, compared those practices to best practices, and identified risks and areas for improvement. From there we developed a strategic plan with a focus on records storage and retention. The plan identified the operational, financial and technological requirements for implementing the recommended changes, improvements and enhancements in the lifecycle management of the member records. Activities in the plan were classified as short term (next 6-12 months), medium term (next 12-24 months) and longer term (next 25+ months).
    Step by Step Success
    Implementation of the strategic plan enabled this organization to ensure its member records are properly identified, organized, accessible, protected and retained as long as necessary to meet operational and other requirements.
    Previous slide
    Next slide