It’s an intermittently cloudy Tuesday morning in San Jose, but no matter. I’m stuck in a hotel ballroom at a big data conference and haven’t seen sunlight in 36 hours. A young woman pulls up a chair next to mine. Unfurling her iPad cover, she explains that her boss has sent her to this event to learn all she can about big data and report back.

I ask her why. She looks up from her screen, surprised by my question. “So we can start watching social media comments,” she says, as if she’s explaining why I should tie my shoelaces and get a good night’s sleep.

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