The Census Has Always Been “Big Data”

The Census has always been “Big Data,” with or without computers and the automation of information.

Census and Sensibility: A Little History of Big Data at IEEE

Consider just one use of today’s big data with a deep history and a major impact on computational technology: keeping track of a country’s citizenry. This has often been accomplished through a periodic counting, or census. Many references to censuses exist in the ancient world, from Egyptian tomb inscriptions and the Hebrew Bible to, perhaps, most famously, the “worldwide” Roman census described in the Book of Luke in the New Testament.

The Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph register for the Census in Ancient Rome
The Virgin and Saint Joseph register for the census before Governor Quirinius. Byzantine mosaic at the Chora Church, Constantinople 1315–20 — via Wikipedia