Louise Tucker-Mitchell laughs on the phone with a customer at Enterprise Rent-A-Car at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. She says she likes working the week between Christmas and New Year's, as it's calmer and a good time to catch up. Sara Carothers/NPR hide caption

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Bill Ferguson, a courier for FedEx, loads his truck at a sorting facility in Chicago on Dec. 12 — the company's busiest day in its history. M. Spencer Green/AP hide caption

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Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks on Capitol Hill about the Hire Heroes Act, which gives tax breaks to businesses that hire unemployed veterans. Vets that have served since 2001 face a higher unemployment rate than the population overall. Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images hide caption

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DJ Patil explains a visualization of a person's LinkedIn network, where different groups of contacts are illustrated by different colors. Patil developed big data projects for LinkedIn — like algorithms to determine whom you might know. He now recruits mathematicians for a venture capital firm. Joi Ito/Flickr hide caption

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Big data is huge in both scope and power. Yury Kuzmin/iStockPhoto.com hide caption

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Customers shop for electronics items during Black Friday at a Best Buy in San Diego. Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images hide caption

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