In September 2012, I presented a paper on Big Data at the Internet, Politics, Policies 2012: Big Data, Big Challenges conference, held by Oxford Internet Institute. The conference focused on methods, techniques and technologies for managing, making use of and benefiting from large and complex data sets. Big data may include the data that is gathered by web-based services on user transaction and interaction, research data resulting from funded research projects, large linked data sets available on the web as well as data created, manipulated or modified by scientists, engineers, social scientists and digital humanities scholars.
There are many different terms used in the literature that may refer to or be associated with the phenomenon of ‘big data’, including such terms as research data, digital data, linked data, open data, web of data and data repositories. The availability and discourse of these data types presents new research, development and policy opportunities as well as challenges. Domains and disciplines within natural sciences, social sciences and humanities can leverage the power of big data to create new research initiatives and avenues and to inform the development of policies, practices, systems and services.
Following the emergence of search engines, digital libraries and various types of institutional repositories in the 1990s and 2000s, big data is gradually finding its way into our new digital information environment. The increasing pace of data-intensive teaching, learning, business, research, and development calls for a solid understanding and application of big data in a wide range of domains and disciplines. Information science is well-positioned to inform the organization, management and effective use of big data to support research and education.