Alec Baldwin and the challenges of #BigData

If you followed the Alec Baldwin saga this week, you know that he was kicked off an American Airlines flight waiting to leave LAX. It seems he had a verbal altercation with a flight attendant who asked him to turn off his phone. As a very frequent flyer, I have lots of opportunities to wonder why we’re told to turn off our devices. Combine that with my observation that, especially since 9/11, flight attendants have by and large become less customer service-oriented and sometimes quite unpleasant. I’m often treated very well by the same person who turns around and growls at another passenger. Being a vocal guy, I tweeted my opinion on a personal twitter account.

Before I go further, let me be clear that I don’t condone Alec Baldwin’s behavior, but the incident raised other questions in my mind.

Butterfly effect

In short order, I was contacted by…let’s call them Organization X…that monitors Twitter for mentions of their name. Organization X isn’t alone by any stretch. Large corporations have teams of people that monitor Twitter and other social media (but mostly Twitter) to manage their brand/image. It is a tough enough problem that whole tool suites are on the market to help do this.

Organization X let me know they discovered a tweet with my handle and theirs suggesting they don’t do business with airlines if I (meaning ‘me’) think their customer service is poor. Looking up the tweet sender’s account, they had few followers and no connection to Organization X. It was random and irrelevant.


But it brings up a bigger point. In an age of fast increasing data, without a way of filtering the noise of all types, we are in serious danger of spending far too much time on the trivial. This non-event had the attention and time of three people for a short period. As generation of data and its monitoring increase, how will we avoid the time-wasters like this?

Without technology to sense, filter, correlate and bring only the important things to our attention, organizations are in for an interesting ride.


Categories: Data Analytics / Big Data, Information Technology

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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