ImageStrata has grown quite a lot since last year's Santa Clara gathering. There are 2,000 attendees, and though that's small compared to some of the events over the years I've attended at Moscone Center in San Francisco, it's being interpreted here as consistent with the rising profile of Big Data and everything associated with it. 

The themes that drove the organization of the conference - the choice of keynote speakers being one indicator - center around the democratization and/or the consumerization of data. How can all of this power to sort and analyze data be made more transparent to the world outside of engineering and analysis. That world includes executives, of course, but also the hundreds of millions of people who now use social media to connect and share. This lack of knowledge or savvy about the workings of data warehousing and data mining encompasses privacy issues that most people don't really understand but are afraid of.

Within the community of data wizards, the dominance of Hadoop is being acknowledged as the game changing evolution of open source from an answer to vexing problems to the hub of entire ecosystems and expertise. This is not a surprise today, but a year ago not so many people were on its bandwagon.

Some speakers and much of the hall talk have addressed the countless new applications for data analysis, from tracking and analyzing the output of sensors to improvements in health care. There are a lot of smart, creative people here and it was good to see how the idea of the keynote has changed. In order to bring to the stage more new ideas and viewpoints, each day began with a series of speakers addressing the plenary audience for from 5 to 15 minutes - enough time to get the condensed information across about their new startup or project.

On a more mundane level, rather than attempt to provide a sit-down lunch with servers bringing the courses to tables, it's more of a buffet style meal - vegetarian Mexican food yesterday. Who knows what, today.