Geoff Nunberg's Word of the Year: Big Data

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6:35 minutes (3.01 MB)

From “Fresh Air” from WHYY, on National Public Radio

Geoff Nunberg's Word Of The Year: Big Data

By Geoff Nunberg

"Big Data" hasn't made any of the words-of-the-year lists I've seen so far. That's probably because it didn't get the wide public exposure given to items like "frankenstorm," "fiscal cliff" and YOLO. But it had a huge surge in venues like Wired and The Economist, and it was the buzz of Silicon Valley and Davos. And if the phrase wasn't as familiar to many people as "Etch A Sketch" and "47 percent," Big Data had just as much to do with President Obama's victory as they did.

Whether it's explicitly mentioned or not, the Big Data phenomenon has been all over the news. It's responsible for a lot of our anxieties about intrusions on our privacy, whether from the government's anti-terrorist data sweeps or the ads that track us as we wander around the Web. It has even turned statistics into a sexy major. So if you haven't heard the phrase yet, there's still time — it will be around a lot longer than "gangnam style."...

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