One of the newest buzz words going around these days is “big data,” the idea that organizations are collecting more and more information about all of us. These organizations include businesses, the government, and, every election cycle, political parties.
Almost every electronic activity you are involved with ends up in a database somewhere. Credit card transactions, trips you take, books you read and food you buy all get recorded, diced, sliced and used by dozens, if not hundreds of organizations. Political parties know what restaurants you frequent, environmental groups know what kind of car you drive, and magazine publishers know what your hobbies are.
What I find particularly fascinating is the reaction to the notion of “big data.” Hundreds, if not thousands of companies use big data to make marketing decisions. And hundreds, if not thousands of other companies will help still other organizations gather, organize and translate big data.
At the same time, dozens, if not hundreds of organizations are expressing concern about invasion of privacy that include such things as knowing where we are all the time, who we associate with, and what we are thinking about all sorts of issues and ideas.
Actually, all of this information has been available to marketers and the government for years. What’s different now is the ability to take all of these divergent databases and combine them to generate new insights into our lives.
Government security agencies have always been able to take seemingly unrelated bits and pieces of supposedly innocuous information and generate important intelligence. Now almost anyone can do the same thing with all sorts of information we used to consider private.
So unless you are going to use only cash, disconnect yourself from every form of electronic communication and quit you job, your life is going to be an open book. A book that a lot of people want to read.