small data
n. The data generated by an individual or small company.
Throughout the two days I found myself constantly presented with new ideas — of course, many of these were not new at all, just new for me to think about. So when Richard Nash talked about "small data" (metadata about you: your cookies, your web search history, your Amazon clicks, and so on), I knew it was an old topic, but he brought new life to it in a way that made me suddenly start to care.
—David Blatner, “A Report from Books in Browsers 2014, Part 2,” CreativePro, November 17, 2014
Small data is something else again. Think of all the digital tidbits consumers leave in their paths as they go through the day. Credit card payments, location fixes, newsletter signups, Facebook likes, tweets and Web searches. As Deborah Estrin stated at TEDMED 2013, "Small data are derived from our individual digital traces. We generate these data because most of us mediate or at least accompany our lives with mobile technologies. As a result, we all leave a 'trail of breadcrumbs' behind us with our digital service providers, which together create our digital traces."
—Eric Lundquist, “'Small Data' Analysis the Next Big Thing, Advocates Assert,” eWeek, September 10, 2013
2012 (earliest)
And that leads me to the one quibble I have with the article: It's framed in terms of Big Data. But if you think about it, this is pretty small data. He even says, "Heck, if your local brick-and-mortar deli, pet store or even fishing-bait shop is willing to upload its Quickbooks data or other sales and inventory information to a cloud service, they might eventually be able to reap the rewards of big data, too," but compared to "big data" (no matter how you feel like defining that), Quickbooks seems to just be "data". Maybe even "small data". From small companies.
—Jake Freivald, “Big Data? Or a Different Big Idea?,” Information Builders, April 12, 2012
The phrase small data appears quite frequently both on- and offline (particularly when used as a counterpoint to big data), so it's important to bear in mind that I'm talking here about a very specific sense of the phrase. The more general senses — a data set with relatively few items and a data set small enough to be analyzed and comprehended by individuals — are both much older and much more common.
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