When Is Big Data Too Big?
Journalist Patrick Tucker wrote an interesting comment on big data in an article titled "The Naked Future." He said, "We will be able to predict huge areas of the future with far greater accuracy than ever before in human history, including events long thought to be beyond the realm of human inference."
The sticky parts of that statement are the "areas" and "events long thought to be beyond the realm of human inference." Are there some areas where "human inference" or in this case personal data collection, is unwanted?
On the positive side, it does seem that big data use in some cases can be as close as having your own corporate wizard in a three-piece suit in the upper corner office accurately predicting the future. What future? Your future actions, of course.
When we look at it strictly professionally we can tell many things about our customers, the readers of our publications: When and how often do our customers visit our web sites? How long do they read? And perhaps more importantly, exactly what articles do they read? How much commerce do we get from any individual subscriber? Exactly what do they buy and conversely what do they not buy? That is the easy stuff. But it gets deeper than that if we are willing.
Those are data points we collect from our own sites. But what happens in total is that data is collected from the hundreds or thousands of sites we visit. And all those separate visitations and all the separate transactions we make are compiled into a profile of each one of us.
Very soon we will be entering the era of the internet of things. When that happens, anything that runs with electric power will be interconnected and "talking" to the internet, and therefore everything we do, every place we go, everything we buy, everything we read, and possibly everything we think, will be added to the big data pool of collected personal information. Most if not all sites claim that they gather anonymous data about our habits. If that is so, it doesn't take much of a stretch of my imagination to see Big Brother watching our every move.