Do you have any great ideas about how to manage BIG data?

Do you have any great ideas about how to manage BIG data?

NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy need your brilliant ideas

Some of the greatest ideas and concepts were not necessarily born in a laboratory or research facility; often times, they drop in from out of nowhere straight from the mind of the general public. Well, now’s your chance to show the world how brilliant you really are and perhaps become recognized in the process. NASA, the NSF, and the DoE are setting up contests with the aim of developing better solutions for some of the most well-known BIG data problems. That’s right, people, you’re full of vital information and don’t even know it.

In the same way that crowdsourcing allows certain types of companies to get funding, ideas and support equal to the kind that larger institutions routinely receive, it can also be used to create “idea wells”. You know the old saying, “2 heads are better than 1”, right? Well, what about 100,000, or perhaps 1 million? Those that are interested in participating in these upcoming contests should visit TopCoder.com to get started or for additional information.

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What’s the contest (the first one at this particular time {Oct. 2012}) specifically trying to achieve? Believe it or not, the first contest question deals with the issue that cuts to the very heart of the BIG data conundrum, which is: how can we extract useful information from large sets of unstructured data? More specifically, how can we make all data in a large grouping of unstructured sets more homogenous so that it can be organized and analyzed?

Once again, the goal is to be able to ultimately extract unique and useful information from BIG data in a way that is (hopefully) fast and precise. NASA and the other agencies hope to use this contest to develop new technologies which might allow them and their accomplices to address some of the growing problems humanity is facing (namely, the proliferation of massive amounts of data). Each additional contest will not specifically cover BIG data issues, but will veer off into other areas like the natural sciences, energy and even health care. Those who offer up great ideas for BIG data management will be making not only a significant contribution to this contest, but the future and ongoing development of technology and industry/business. To put it another way, if you win this contest, you’re going to be making the world a better place.

For those with the concepts and drive to solve pressing problems, this contest and the ones soon to follow represent a great opportunity. As some others have noted, the prize amount is somewhat paltry in comparison with the usefulness of the idea(s) which are to be presented, but the real payoff is going to come through recognition. It’s not every day that a person gets to act as an official consultant to the Department of Energy, the NSF or NASA after all. For those who are already entrenched in a technical career, perhaps in IT, winning this contest will undoubtedly “open some very big doors”.

On a side note, it’s somewhat interesting how modern movements like crowdsourcing (also called ‘idea sourcing”) are very similar to cloud computing in terms of structure. For example, if one were to compare each individual person to a “machine” (virtual, server, or self-contained) it’s easy to see how beneficial it is to draw upon the collective power of the “hive”, so to speak. In other words, as cloud computing is able to requisition large amounts of processing power, so too can science foundations draw upon the power of large groups of human beings, each having their own unique take on the problem at hand. Perhaps it’s only fitting that BIG data is finding a close technological ally in cloud computing?

Hadoop is being deployed through IaaS; is your IT dept. certified?  

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