Wrestling with "Big Data"

How do you take "the morass of data" from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites and structure it into something you can take action on?

Microsoft's Steve Fox attempted to answer that question during his keynote at DevConnections Conference recently, by demonstrating a new tool from Microsoft. Called Analytics for Twitter, it lets users query Twitter directly in Microsoft Excel 2010.

With the help of the PowerPivot Excel Add-in, users can perform their own social media analysis such as identifying the top Twitter users, what hashtags they're using, and whether their tweets have a positive or negative tone.

Of course, it took a lot of behind-the-scenes work with Hadoop on Azure, Power Views in SQL Server 2012, and Excel and PowerPivot in SharePoint, but the result was a cool demo that keynote attendees saw.

The demo organized data from Twitter tweets about movies from 2011 and 2012, displayed as an interactive chart showing what movies got better reviews than others on Twitter.

Although the emphasis of the keynote, and Microsoft's main message, was on "Big Data" and the cloud and how to make "actionable" data from the unstructured data we see these days on Facebook and Twitter, SharePoint was the bridge or interface between all these parts.

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