The temptations of data may be too great to resist

Living online with all the free stuff (content, storage, data, assistance, education, health advice, whatever) is great as long as you don’t think too much about it.

What happens when you ask and don’t like the answer?

The site search engine will simply say, “Here are a few others” … pick your poison.

The online world is so rich with information, images and opinions, you can find anything you need … and more.

So why shouldn’t really nosey, paranoid, bottom-feeding people follow the same course?

Take the folks who see nasties around every corner.

Back in the old days, security teams such as the National Security Agency (NSA), Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI), Mossad, Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center (CSICE), Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN), Military Intelligence and Security Service (MUST), Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)/MI6 and the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had to be massive.


Before Google, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Groupon, Yelp and Yahoo; security organizations had to have huge mobs of people.

They had to leave the office, follow people, take pictures, rummage through garbage, tap phone conversations, etc.

Jeez, that was tough, boring work!

Not anymore.

You’re Busy

Regular guys/gals do all the hard work and out themselves.

Every minute:

  • 200 hours of videos uploaded
  • 4,000 photos/selfies loaded
  • 2M+ search queries
  • 277,000 Facebook logins
  • 638,900GB of IP data transferred
  • $83,000 Amazon purchases
  • 204M emails sent
  • And more, lots more
  • It’s so much fun to talk/brag/show off to 10s of millions of “others” that young and old simply can’t do enough.

Even when they aren’t asked, there is always someone ready to give their opinion, take someone to task or b****slap you or me.

They really get off on cyberbullying, commenting on a thoughtful article with a stream of really dumb four letter words and disparaging phrases and in general saying, “You’re blight on society and I’m not.”


For whatever reason, it’s way too easy to lay it all out there on the line.

According to Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, that six pixels of recognition/fame encourages 24 per cent of the folks around the globe to share everything or almost everything online!

Now About Me – Admit it, there is nothing more exciting than talking about yourself; and with all the sites available for individuals to talk about themselves and show how awesome they are, they just keep piling on the information, data, images, videos, stuff.

People are so busy with their online lives they (roughly 3B online earthlings) produced 4ZB (1ZB is s 1,000 000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes or 383 trillion copies of War and Peace) last year!

The neat part is all the information sent, stuff posted/shared didn’t cost them anything (O.K., time) but really …

Free is Good

Nope, the nice people at those places said they’d send it for you, post it for you, store it for you … free!

You read it right, free in their big, fluffy, friendly clouds.

Three Vs – Today’s Big Data is too large, too complex, too dynamic for today’s tools to capture, store, manage and analyze.  It’s all about volume, velocity and variety; and it just keeps coming.  The above illustration is just about the volume of healthcare data stored around the world in Petabytes (which has probably doubled by the time you look at the graphic).

The more noise about yourself you put in their cloud, the bigger their database.

It’s all part of their doing better job of mining the data so select people can ensure you get the messages you really want and other “interested parties” to watch over you.

The truth is, your friends/you are doing too good of a job keeping them current on everything.

They are overwhelmed by so much really good data they simply aren’t sure they have the right data because all data isn’t the same.

That’s why most retail and consumer goods companies spend 70 – 90 per cent of their time getting the data into a form that can be easily prioritized/analyzed.

As Snow White said, “Supper’s not quite ready. You’ll just have time to wash.”

Their goal is to determine the exact profile of a person who will buy a specific product at a specific time of day through a specific channel at a specific price.

Is that cool or what?

Bigger Job – Organizations of every size gather Big Data about every contact they have and are amassing PB upon PB of information.  The challenge is to figure out what it means, what to do with it, how to use it, when to use it.  In addition, it is difficult to impossible to determine if the conclusions reached are accurate.

The problem is that ain’t easy, ain’t cheap!

As Grumpy said, “I knew there’s a catch to it!”

So they sell ads, details to those interested parties. And when it works, those folks know more about you than you know about you.

However, one wrong assumption wastes tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales.

One wrong idea/outreach effort can damage people’s lives or ruin an organization’s reputation like when Target offered coupons to profiled pregnant women.  The problem was, some were teens who hadn’t discussed the issue with their parents…S***!

Executed properly and great things happen.

The customer is happy … the retailer/manufacturer is happy … the boss is happy.

All of this has been going on since web sites/services began plying their free wares.

Remember Mark Zuckerberg’s now infamous statement in the early days of Facebook, “I have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, etc. People just submitted it. I don’t know why they ‘trust me’ …”

O.K., he has since mellowed and wisened, “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. We do this by giving people the power to share whatever they want and be connected to whoever they want, no matter where they are.”



That’s because people did a quick click on the site’s terms of service when they signed up or downloaded that app.

Don’t kid me, you didn’t read all that mousenut-size gobbledegook or even notice that two-pixel wide “opt out” box. Even if you read the terms, you probably went with the flow because after all, what’s a little information among friends?

People enjoy talking about and sharing their awesomeness.

Connecting Dots

The challenge for legitimate companies who want to do right by the consumer is that the Big Data is like stars in the galaxy.

All the data points are there; they just have to figure out how to connect the dots and interact with the consumer in newer, better ways:

  • Just getting one’s arms around the concept is tough because we’re talking about 2.5 quintillion bytes created daily or 90% of the world’s data was created in just the past 24 months.
  • Product marketers are just beginning to figure out how to harness and connect the data so they can take the best action for the consumer and the company
  • The predictive power of big data (tracking an individual shopper’s behavior in real time, projecting a potential intended action and shaping an offer that would be relevant to that individual) is exciting; but right now, the data sets are too big and analytic tools too difficult to use.
  • There’s too much data, too many options; decisions are only slightly better than educated guesses

Until they can get it right, there are still a lot of people who can put that open information to good use — bankers, lawyers, insurance companies, travel agencies, car companies, shirt/blouse manufacturers, smart device producers, food/drink producers; oh heck, anyone interested in you.

Since folks do such a great job of spreading their digital footprint, interested parties can dig out details on your credit worthiness, suitability for employment, health issues, social aptitude/ineptitude, religious/political/sexual preferences, and your feelings about things/places/people.

Their clouds have also become a popular hang-out for cyber-thieves to sneak in and tap into your personal stuff – social security number, PIN numbers, credt/debit card data – with very little chance of being caught and punished.

Yowzahh! – All of that data – some of it really useful/valuable – just keeps piling up in the surrounding clouds.  It’s almost too much of a temptation for any company, any man/woman to resist.  Maybe this fairy tale will have a happy ending.

And sure, the occasional government security agency checks out stuff.

Really … Surprise?

But is outing them worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize?

No it was something everyone “knew” but just didn’t talk about … sorta’ like your brother who looks a lot like the gardener.

Well things got nasty … quickly.

Britain’s prime minister wasn’t happy about folks looking at his stuff, Germany’s chancellor wasn’t delighted about folks listening to her phone calls, Greeks asked ‘em to check and see who was running their country.

People who think privacy should be private – the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Center for Digital Democracy, American Civil Liberties Union, Consumer Reports, Electronic Freedom Foundation and “others” marched with pitchforks in hand.

They were ugly saying all that online stuff would/could:

  • open the door to abuses against the poor, older people, minorities
  • enable marketing tactics that exploit people
  • violate the privacy of individuals in other countries
  • exacerbate inequality
  • To solve/resolve the issue, the U.S. President did what any self-respecting government official would do … formed a committee to study the issue/problem, develop/publish recommendations and crossed his fingers.

Study, Report – Trying to get ahead of the situation, U.S. President Barack Obama formed a committee to study the data gathering and privacy issues.  If you’re going to study the problem, tap the minds of the people who invented it like Google’s Eric Schmidt (r).

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report has been called a “useful examination” of big data technology; and the learning algorithms can be used to determine what ad to serve up to you as well as deny opportunities, crystallize prejudices.

If it’s free, people will still probably click on it, take it.

Some people really believe in fairy tales … like net neutrality.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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