According to pretty much every news outlet, data is everything, everywhere. It’s the new oil, the new electricity, the new gold, plutonium, even bacon! We call it powerful, intangible, precious, dangerous. At the same time, data itself is not enough: it is what you do with it that matters. After all, for a computer, any piece of data is a collection of zeroes and ones, and it is our responsibility, as users, to make sense of how it translates to something useful.
Just like oil, electricity, gold, plutonium, and bacon (especially bacon!), our appetite for data is growing. So much, in fact, that computers aren’t following. Data is growing in size and in complexity, yet consumer hardware has been stalling a little. RAM is hovering for most laptops at around 8 to 16 GB, and SSDs are getting prohibitively expensive past a few terabytes. Is the solution for the burgeoning data analyst to triple-mortgage their life to afford top-of-the-line hardware to tackle big data problems?