Twitter's kind of an ironic place to look for big data wisdom. It's an example of the ubiquitous services used by consumers and businesses alike that help generate this avalanche of data in the first place.
Twitter has a valuable collection of big data knowledge -- if you know where to find it. Like other social platforms, Twitter can sometimes get noisy. Throw in a buzzword like "big data," and the noise can get downright cacophonous. So how do you find the information you want?
It helps not to get too caught up with the term "big data" in the first place. "Often the most interesting people to follow for big data would never consider themselves 'big data experts,'" says Matt Asay, vice president of marketing, business development, and corporate strategy at MongoDB.
Asay and other folks in and around the big data universe shared with us their favorite individuals to follow on Twitter for news, ideas, networking, and more. We threw in our own picks, too, and we came up with 10 big data people worth following on Twitter. Consider it a starting point -- your own list might be much longer (more on that later). The fundamental common element: These are people from whom you can learn in 140 characters or less.
That's a good thing. Anyone can drop "big data" or related terms and technologies into a tweet or other communications, but that doesn't mean that person is an expert. I could tweet about a delicious piece of cake, but I'm not a pastry chef. So look beyond terms for substance, and think about other areas -- open source, for example -- that could be highly relevant but are not necessarily strictly big data-related. Keep this in mind as you choose people to connect with and follow.
Asay also says it's sometimes helpful to go straight to the source for certain kinds of information. "I generally prefer to follow things like Pew Research to get the data directly rather than have it parsed by someone else."
If you recall our list of IT leaders to follow on Twitter, there were a handful of ground rules. Those rules, though somewhat altered, also apply here. We weren't seeking any particular job rank or title, as long as the person's work was relevant. ("Person" is an operative word here; organizational handles were not considered.)
We also excluded people in sales, marketing, and related functions. Asay is a good example -- his own feed is worth a follow, but that pesky "marketing, business development, and corporate strategy" title got in the way. There was no prerequisite number of followers. It's more about quality and consistency than sheer popularity (though some folks here are quite popular on Twitter).
Back to that "starting point" thing: Who'd we miss? We think this is a great list, but it's intended as a beginning. Depending on your interests, your own list probably looks different. Who do you follow to stay in the loop, learn, and network? Social is about sharing, after all -- so give up the goods. Tell us which big data gurus you follow in the comments below.