Open vs Big vs Personal: data defined?

As I continue on my own personal ‘road to Damascus’ towards my conversion to the ‘open data’ cause (if not quite the ‘linked data’ aspect yet!) one of the things that always muddies the waters in discussions and meetings is the constant blurring of the lines between different concepts of data. The big three are open, big and personal – though at the ONS we also talk a lot about ‘admin data’ as well as the statistics themselves and where do they land in the spectrum (as well as the data underlying the stats.) Trying to just define what kind of data we are talking about has been known to derail entire meetings.

In light of this I was pleased to come across this piece of work from the Open Data Institute. It sets out some pretty clear definitions for each of the big three concepts and includes a Venn diagram – and as we all know Venn diagrams just make everything better🙂

data venn

1. Big Data is (i) data that you cannot handle with conventional tools or (ii) a term used as a vague metaphor for solving problems with data.

2. Open Data is data that anyone can use; without legal, technical or financial barriers.

3. Personal Data is data derived from people, where you can distinguish a person from other people in the group.

Now like I said last night;

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