CHAPTER 1Signs of the TimesWhy Data and Analytics Are Dominating Our World

Technology is eating the world.

—Marc Andreessen, August 20, 2011

On August 20, 2011, the ex-Netscape founder and current rock-star venture capitalist uttered these five words—perhaps the most telling and quoted words of the Internet age. In a nutshell, technology has spawned powerful new companies and industries and decimated others. It has led to revolutions, unprecedented wealth, and new social mores and change that many institutions and individuals are barely beginning to process.

I am in the privileged position to have lived through all of this; consequently, I can wax poetic about things to which students probably cannot relate. (In a few of my books, I have done just that.) Yes, I remember getting my first e-mail as a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon in 1991. (I was blown away.) I too once thought that entering your credit card information into a computer was downright weird. I recall telephone booths, answering machines, flip phones, primitive web browsers, search results that weren’t remotely accurate, when Napster was a thing, and nascent social networks such as Friendster that went down more often than they stayed up.

This is not a book about technology per se; it is a book about one of the most important consequences of ubiquitous technology: the explosion of data and the practice of analytics. Make no mistake: These are direct descendants of our tech-centric times. Absent the arrival of the ...

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