For those that have never perused the Philosopher's Lexicon, you are in for a treat (here). I have just come across the following proposed definition for "Big Data," that I found as revealing as it is amusing (here):
Big Data, n: the belief that any sufficiently large pile of shit contains a pony with probability approaching 1.
There is no substitute for thinking, not even very large amounts of data.
The idea that Big Data can be theory free is not a bug, but a feature (here). If it catches on it might really change what we consider to be the point of science. There has always been a tight relation between the cognitive pursuit (why) and the technological one (can I control it). Good technology often builds on theoretical insight. But sometimes not. Big Data seems willing to embrace the idea that insight is overrated. This is why people like Chomsky and Brenner a.o. are hostile to this move towards Big Data: it changes the goal of science from understanding to control, thus severing the useful distinction between science and engineering.