“Big data, huh, what is it good for?…

The mood of this week’s Summit has felt wonderfully diverse. There is a cognitive disconnect between the incremental progress of dot release feature sets and the revolutionary new business and societal applications of the technology.

In the same keynote session the topics can swerve from optimizing cluster utilization to optimizing marketing yields to finding a cure for cancer. The technical lectures were packed, while the expo floor was focused. A loud rock and roll string trio in (unnecessarily short) black dresses exits the stage to be replaced by serious talk of open-source projects and community. One day a presenter will explain how clever they are to be able to apply pervasive surveillance of drivers for more profits, the next day a keynote is focused on rallying the audience to develop their ethics and fight the forces of ignorance.

Is the Hadoop Summit about vendor announcements or business outcomes? Is it about infrastructure or applications? Is it “sex sells” or cubical contributions? Is it profit or politics? Ultimately, it seems the industry is struggling to define who will benefit and how from our new technologies. If I had to pick some winners and losers, here would be my list.

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