We have always said that big data is about control, in the soft form first described by James Beniger.
Information and control are closely connected. Beniger (1986, pp. 7-8) states that the twin activities of information processing and reciprocal communication (or feedback) are inseparable from the concept of control. Control is defined in the broadest sense as “purposive influence toward a predetermined goal.” Even though he wrote well before the current democratization of big data analytics, Beniger’s work provides possibly the best answer to the questions “why big data?” and “why now?”
So I was not surprised that the ultimate control freaks want to get into big data. Only surprise was why it took this long.
China is hoping to marry its tech sector’s nimbleness and ability to gather and process mountains of data to make other, traditional areas of the economy more advanced and efficient, with an eye to shoring up its slowing economy and helping transition to a growth model that is driven more by services and consumption than by exports and investment.
This policy, known as “Internet Plus”, also applies to government, health care and education.