Here's a fascinating description of the 50,000 foot view of "big data," and its potentials. MIT professor Alex Pentland is one of the most prominent experts in the field, and in this interview he outlines what big data is: evidence of our behaviour (bank transactions and location logs), as opposed to records of our consciousness (as in facebook content). Deeply embedded in social realities and institutions, our behaviour reveals a lot about what works and what doesn't.
Thus, big data invites, and even requires (by virtue of its granularity) new approaches to the construction, maintenance, and revision of markets, transportation, . . . [more]