This paper documents the basic concepts relating to big data. It attempts to consolidate the hitherto fragmented discourse on what constitutes big data, what metrics define the size and other characteristics of big data, and what tools and technologies exist to harness the potential of big data.
From corporate leaders to municipal planners and academics, big data are the subject of attention, and to some extent, fear. The sudden rise of big data has left many unprepared. In the past, new technological developments first appeared in technical and academic publications. The knowledge and synthesis later seeped into other avenues of knowledge mobilization, including books. The fast evolution of big data technologies and the ready acceptance of the concept by public and private sectors left little time for the discourse to develop and mature in the academic domain. Authors and practitioners leapfrogged to books and other electronic media for immediate and wide circulation of their work on big data. Thus, one finds several books on big data, including Big Data for Dummies, but not enough fundamental discourse in academic publications.