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The Future of Big Data: Distilling Less Knowledge Per Bit

Without higher-value analyses, big data will overwhelm us

3 min read
Opening illustration for Reflections department page.
Illustration: Greg Mably

Until recently, the word data didn’t require a modifier. But we passed a watershed moment when we started referring to big data. Apparently, that wasn’t a sufficient description for some chunks of data, because people grasped for bolder terms, such as humongous data. Sadly, now, it appears that we have run out of appropriate adjectives. And yet data keeps getting bigger and bigger.

So instead of mentioning data, people have begun waving their hands and talking vaguely about the “cloud.” This seems to be the perfect metaphor—a mystical vapor hanging over Earth, occasionally raining information on the parched recipients below. It is both unknowable and all-knowing. It answers all questions, if only we know how to interpret those answers.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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