Roundup of Some Recent Books on Big Data, Analytics and Intelligent Systems

I have recently read four books concerning big data, analytics and intelligent systems that I highly recommend to anyone interested in learning more about these rapidly growing fields.

1.  The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. An engaging and in depth analysis of the current and future implications of the convergence of everything becoming digital, all of this digital content increasing at an exponential rate, and how future job skills and business opportunities will be combinatorial in nature.

During the past three months, NYTimes columnists Thomas Friedman, David Brooks and Joe Nocera have all very insightful analyses about different points in this book here, here and here , respectively. As well, The Times ran a very interesting Op-Ed piece Monday’s  (4/7/14) cautioning about a series of concerns with big data and analytics in a piece entitled Eight (No, Nine!) Problems with Big Data by Gary Marcus and Ernest David. All are highly recommended.

2.  Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier. An clear and concise primer on the concepts, applications, limits and implications of big data. This book has received a great deal of attention in the press. I was particularly impressed with their expert distinctions between causation and correlation in big data analytics.

3.  Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die by Eric Siegel. The author presents a balanced approach to examining a series of industry specific cases using data analytics to predict everything from consumer behavior or political trends. I suggest reading this book and the Big Data book above together if possible because of their contrasting perspectives on this phenomenon. Also, both this book and Big Data above provide adequate treatments of data privacy and security issues.

4.  Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend. A deep analytical exploration of how big data and analytics are being devised and deployed in large urban areas by local governments and independent citizens. I found this to be a fascinating look at the nearly limitless possibilities described and forecast by the author.