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small data March 26, 2014

Posted by nicholas gill in big data, small data.
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I’ve been travelling a lot lately for work and the simplicity of the Dutch train system as a foreign traveller always impresses me. Not only is it incredibly simple to buy a ticket and found out which platform your train is going from at Schipol airport but once you’re on the train, the large TV style display makes it easy for you to track your journey to the minute. I’m sure there’s a gazillion data bits that sit under this but the outcome is that in a country where I can barely understand any word of the language (Dutch is hard), I can get myself around incredibly easily and it works pretty much all of the time. Compare this to the on-train service in the UK (specifically South West Trains) where the announcements are largely impenetrable and inaudible. The on-screen dot matrix horizontal scrolling is not permanently on so if you glance up to see where you’re at after you’ve dozed off, you really have no clue.

So I’m avoiding big data and becoming a fan of small data. The small things that make a big difference.

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