“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” – W. Edwards Deming

If you think Big Data will make you smarter, and that having an opinion is a bad idea when considering an important decision, think again.

“Without data you’re just a person with an opinion.” The words of W. Edwards Deming, patron saint of the quality movement, reflect postwar naiveté about the possibility of blank-slate objectivity which in many fields was tinged with outright scientism. In science, you don’t want opinions, you want to look at the facts, and these must be objective. Your opinion doesn’t count. Whether you like it or not, the Earth revolves around the Sun, and you know it by looking at the facts informed by repeated experiments.

The good news is that we have more and more facts, more and more data. In fact, data is everywhere. Any time you spend on the Internet, the sites you visit and the services you use accumulate an enormous amount of data on your behavior and your preferences. They are the digital exhaust of modern life.