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Big Data Journal: Blog Post

Sometimes No Data Is Way Cooler than Big Data

Ask any five-year-old who just got back from Disney World

I have a pretty decent amount of data about Disney World (where to stay, when to visit, how to beat the crowds to Space Mountain, etc.), and in turn, Disney knows a lot about me (my age, where I live, how many times I’ve visited the park, etc.).

This information may seem trivial, but it’s essential (or so we think) for an experience that’s optimized for our enjoyment. In fact, Disney has made a big bet on this idea. You might have seen stories about Disney’s new “vacation management system” which is designed to learn even more about park visitors and, in turn, improve upon their experience. The amount of data that can be gleaned from something that looks like a sweatband is almost limitless. It’s… uh… big.

This past week, I was lucky enough to experience the power of Disney without the Big Data backstory, as I took my two boys (aged 5 and 2) to Disney World for the first time. My wife and I wanted them to be surprised about their new adventure, so we told them nothing about the park beforehand.

That means they knew nothing of Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion or EPCOT.  They’d never seen the Teacup ride, a 3-D movie or life-size cartoon characters that sign autographs. The only thing they were fairly certain of was that Mickey, Goofy and the gang as well as some princesses lived there.

As our monorail approached the Magic Kingdom, their eyes grew as large as saucers and their grins widened from ear to ear. During our four-day trip, it would have taken the world’s finest surgeon to remove the smiles from their faces. A week later my youngest still can't stop singing Zipadee Do Dah.

For all the excitement and interest about Big Data, there’s something to be said for possessing no data. Without data, everything is a surprise, and surprises lead to lasting memories. Isn’t that what Disney World is all about in the first place?

More Stories By David Tishgart

After spending years at large corporations including Dell, AMD and BMC, David Tishgart joined the startup ranks leading product marketing for Gazzang. Focused on security for big data, he helps communicate the benefits and challenges that big data can present, offering practical solutions. When not ranting about encryption and key management, you can find David clamoring for a big data application that can fine tune his fantasy football team.