Posts tagged ‘Google’
Privacy, Big Data, Civil Rights, and Personalization Versus Discrimination: When does someone else’s problem become ours?
There has been a great deal of media attention on the benefits of big data (just look at our @bigdatapbi twitter stream) lately. Certainly, PatternBuilders has been busy helping financial markets become more efficient, working with data scientists on various research projects, as well as helping other businesses with their big data initiatives. In fact, there are a number of companies (like ours) that are making significant strides in reducing the costs associated with legacy big data systems, helping to move big data out of the early adopter phase and into the mainstream. But as technology innovates, there is usually some “bad” thrown in with all that good. Such is the case with big data and privacy.
Two thought provoking articles on privacy were published this month—both considering privacy through a civil rights prism. In “Big data is our generation’s civil rights issue, and we don’t know it,” Alistair Croll states that:
“Personalization” is another word for discrimination. We’re not discriminating if we tailor things to you based on what we know about you — right? That’s just better service.”
A few years ago, Terence and I were trying to get our arms around the world of big data and how to effectively communicate its size and challenges as we were talking to analysts, media, prospects, partners, and, of course, the venture community. Hopefully, most of our readers would acknowledge that we have a fine grasp of language (we like to engage in a Scrabble battle of wits upon occasion) but I must admit that we have been eclipsed by many in the race to illustrate just how “big” big really is. My favorite is this:
“We are engulfed by a supernova of data.”
Now, Webster’s defines supernova in two ways:
“1: the explosion of a star in which the star may reach a maximum intrinsic luminosity one billion times that of the sun or 2: one that explodes into prominence or popularity.”
Yes, it’s that time again: a deep drill-down into a specific big data area, courtesy of McKinsey’s voluminous report on “Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity.” You may be wondering about the five month delay since my last foray into this particular study but, well, we have been just a bit busy with our book (Privacy and Big Data) while working on some very cool features for our Analytics Platform as well as handling all our other PatternBuilders responsibilities!
I also must confess to a bit of angst regarding location data, especially when it pertains to where we are located as opposed to where things (like shipping boxes) are located. From a privacy standpoint, this is a rather large (okay, huge) area of concern but it’s not the data itself that we should be worried about. As in most things surrounding the privacy debate, it is how the myriad of companies, organizations, and government agencies collect and use our personal location information without our knowledge or consent that we should be worried about. (more…)
All you need is text, Text is all you need (sing to the tune of The Beatles’ All you need is love). If you are one of our regular readers you will remember that several months ago I wrote a manifesto on what the perfect analytics system would look like. One of the last points was:
It must be as accessible as Excel (still the number one analytics tool in the world).
I was wrong – Excel is the number one non-specialized analytics tool in the world but in terms of usage, it is dwarfed in comparison to a very well know specialized analytics toolkit. The creators of this tool are a little company that you may have heard of: it does no evil and analyzes the Internet to bring you back everything on the web based on a simple text query. But behind that simple text box, Google has one of the most sophisticated analytics infrastructures in the world:
- It can deduce your interests.
- Give you the most relevant results.
- And show you appropriate information based on them, as well as bring back highly personalized ads.
Google is not only the largest big data analytics company in the world, but it also has the easiest to use tools—proof that text is all you really need!
Folks, I am neck deep in writing “stuff” this week (from my final McKinsey health care post to working with Terence on another chapter for our upcoming Ebook—yep, shameless plugs strike again!) but so many great posts and articles came through my “inbox” this week that I just have to “talk” about them. If you have some time over this long weekend, every single one of these items is worth a thorough read.
Privacy is Every Where and No Where
One of the most thoughtful posts on privacy in the digital world, courtesy of John Jordan, came out today. John’s use of real world examples to illustrate his own angst on the topic made me stop and think:
“Does it matter that a person’s political alignment, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and zip code (a reasonable proxy for household income) are now a matter of public, searchable record? Is her identity different now that some many facets of it are transparent? Or is it a matter of Mark Zukerberg’s vision—people have one identity, and transparency is good for relationships—being implicitly shared more widely across the planet? Just today, a review of Google Plus argued that people don’t mind having one big list of “friends,” even as Facebook scored poorly on this year’s customer satisfaction index.” (more…)