Data is the new this. Data is the new that. Data is the new... everything. Almost everyone seems to now have an opinion as to what to be comparing data to these days.
Some of these comparisons are ridiculous, while others are very ridiculous. Still others are less ridiculous, and may even have some element of logic buried somewhere deep within.
To get an idea of what new thing people seem to believe data is, let's take a look at what people are searching on Google. The top 4 Google search terms offered by autocomplete are shown below.
Data is the New Oil
The first search term that shows up via Google autocomplete is perhaps the most well-used. The logic behind the phrase is simple: information can be extracted from data just as energy can be extracted from oil (or oil can be extracted from the ground; take your pick).
The top item returned by Google search is the Wired article "Data is the New Oil of the Digital Economy," from July 2014. An excerpt from the article, which seems to capture its tone, is as follows:
There is some obvious truth behind this. More recently, and in support of this claim, the digital economy has since been re-branded the algorithm economy. The Forbes article Big Data Fades to the Algorithm Economy outlines this proposed change, and the following article quote provides some context:
I would, however, argue that the analogy of refined fuel being akin to propriety algorithms is inaccurate; instead, refined fuel is the insight extracted from data, and the algorithms (they may or may not be proprietary) are the extraction and refining tools. The spirit of the article seems accurate however. The takeaway from this 'data is the new...' search term is that data may be harboring a wealth of insight hidden within, a now-forgone conclusion, and the driving factor behind the Big Data Era.
Data is the New Bacon
Well now, this is a much tastier take on data.
The first search result is a post outlining a Cloudera T-shirt. I assume the logic here is that people like bacon, just as people like data. Easy enough.
I'd like to find something deeper here, maybe a link to the salty deliciousness that is hiding within data, or the aromatic distinctiveness which it possesses. But, truly, I think Cloudera was engaged in a clever bit of marketing is all. It must have struck a chord, however, as years after the promotion the term is still sitting at suggestion number 2 in autocomplete.
I don't eat bacon, but I sure love the smell of it.;