Big Data digest: Set your happiness gadget to bliss

It all started in Chile, says a New Yorker writer. We look at more big data news in this week's web roundup

Big data's origins lie not with Google or even IBM, but in a 1970's Chilean government effort to move to socialism, so we learned from the latest New Yorker ("The Money Issue").

The country's Marxist-leaning leader of the time, Salvador Allende, was nationalizing the country's key industries, and so naturally he wanted to build a "hyper-modern information system" that could show government officials how productive the country's factories were, and how happy the entire populace was -- all in real time!

New Yorker writer Evgeny Morozov details how the Project Cybersyn's many features -- some actual and some just planned -- anticipated our big data-driven, cloud-computing, hyper-connected, Internet-of-many-things world of today.

The system's operation center sounds like nothing so much as a room-sized business intelligence dashboard. Four screens could show hundreds of pictures and figures, as well as statistical information about factory production, helpfully summarized with up and down arrows. The system could even do predictive analytics of a sort.

If you're wondering how this early system could present all this data in a visual fashion, the answer is, by hand. Graphics artists were hired to update the screens.

In true Cloud fashion, each factory would feed this "command center" with pertinent data, such as how many supplies were at hand, or what the current rate of production of whatever the factory was producing.

Cybersyn even predated the Internet of Things. One planned feature was a living room gadget that allowed each citizen to indicate his or her own level of happiness by way of a dial that ranged from extreme unhappiness to complete bliss. This happiness data would also then be returned to central planning, by way of the television airwaves, where it would tallied to produce a national happiness index.

More broadly though, today's big data systems strikingly resemble Cybersyn in that both attempt to "collect as much relevant data from as many sources as possible, analyse them in real time, and make an optimal decision based on the current circumstances rather than on some idealised projection," Morozov observed.

Despite all this Big Data at Allende's fingertips, he failed to fend off a (CIA-sponsored) coup d'état, or his own mysterious death shortly thereafter.

As for Cybersyn? The next leader, notorious dictator, Augusto Pinochet, had no truck with central planning, preferring to leave economic progress in the hands of a free market, and so died the wildly prescient system.

Big data has been very, very good for New Relic.

"We're seeing a lot of interest in people wanting to use data to run their business better," Jim Gochee, senior vice-president of products at New Relic, told us in a telephone interview.

New Relic originally made its bank on an application performance management (APM) service, which provides developers and administrators with valuable insights into how well (or not) their applications are running.

Since the service required that users place a data collecting software agent on all the apps they wanted to monitor, it was a natural extension for the company to also offer data analysis services.

Earlier this year, the company launched a data analysis service called Insights that builds on this APM infrastructure. The company marketed Insights not to administrators but to line-of-business managers.

The approach has seemingly paid off. This week, at New Relic's annual user conference, FutureStack, the company trumpeted that Insights now collects 2.1 trillion system events every month.

That's some Big Data. And it gets bigger. Insight user queries touch 34 trillion stored system events a day, the company calculates.

"To give you an idea of the scale of this, the entire Twitter stream is less than one per cent of what we're inserting into Insights every day," Gochee said.

Much like New Relic, Splunk originally found its success helping administrators and developers monitor system performance and troubleshoot problems, by using Splunk's search engine set loose upon a mountain of machine data. And like New Relic, Splunk expanded its technology to offer big data analysis tools for the business leader.

This week, Splunk dove deeper into the big data waters, offering connectivity to data sets in Hadoop and Amazon's Simple Storage Service. "Anywhere there's machine data, that's where we go," said Splunk Chief Technology Officer Todd Papaioannou, during a live interview caught by SiliconAngle during Splunk's own user conference.

Striding over from the business intelligence space, open source BI-software vendor Pentaho certainly kept big data in mind when it developed the latest commercial version of its eponymous open source BI suite - Pentaho Version 5.2 is out now.

The updated bits come with, among other goodies, a drag and drop interface for moving data back and forth between Hadoop and another data source, reports the U.K's Computerweekly.

No stranger to Hadoop, Teradata continues to bridge its data warehouse systems to Apache data processing platform. Thursday, the company announced its partnership with Cloudera, leaving us to wonder how Teradata's Unified Data Architecture will fit with Cloudera's envisioned Enterprise Data Hub. Call in Pivotal, and we could drop it all in a data lake. Big data buzzphrase joke. You laugh here.

Don't forget, appreciators of data in voluminous portions, next week is the New York Strata + Hadoop World, which is rocking the cavernously-large Javits Center this year.

Simply by judging from the meeting requests we've been getting from vendors, the conference should generate a lot of insights, or least some buzz. New machine learning systems? Hub or Lake? Fast data ingestion systems? News from a big cloud vendor? Turn your happiness dial to bliss and come back to find out.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applicationsNew Relicdata miningsoftware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?