A discussion about our language triggered further thinking about the words we use. Our discussion had been triggered by a description of misunderstandings and failed communication.
We are already used to have difficulties to understand others, when they use a language we have not learned yet, like a foreign language or a language using a professional vocabulary we are not aware of.
These are the situations in which we find it easy to know that we don’t understand what is being said.
There are more situations in which misunderstandings will easily happen if we don’t pay attention to them. Advertising has lead us to use “interesting” words to make our product more interesting. The words used might have a scientific connotation or have received a slightly different meaning. “Big data” is such an example. Looking it up, I found a variety of definitions. Wikipedia starts its explanation with “Big data is a term used to refer to data sets that are too large or complex for traditional data-processing application software to adequately deal with.”
In contrast to this, Techopedia switches from the data set to the process of dealing with the data: “Big data refers to a process that is used when traditional data mining and handling techniques cannot uncover the insights and meaning of the underlying data.”
And SearchDataManagement has yet another approach to describe it: “Big data is an evolving term that describes any voluminous amount of structured, semistructured and unstructured data that has the potential to be mined for information.”
If I imagine three people exchanging with each other about big data and using their individual definition, they will not be able to find a common understanding if nobody questions the definition used individually for big data in order to create a common understanding.
It only will happen if we listen to the difficulties in the exchange and realize that we all are different and have different ideas about the world and how we see it. It seems obvious, but once in the discussion, the idea that both might have a different understanding of a word often is lost.