Data Mining

Don’t you find this whole thing even remotely scary ?

My daughters are growing up in a world – a world that also very probably has the next leaders of every country already born – where everything you do can be monitored like never before. There is the search History “feature” that Google have now – I wonder how many arguments THAT will start (a bit like the “last number redial” on phones), Gmail and the myriad of other ways that our lives are electronically dissected and reassembled by various companies. Don’t you find it spooky that if a kid wants to be President / Prime Minister that s/he almost needs to make that decision NOW and act accordingly because the future will not rely on grainy b&w photos and dodgy typefaces, it is being laid down for posterity now. What they search for and blog about could return to haunt them – such is the power of data collection.
But do we want such clean-cut individuals ? I certainly don’t – but then as Google have revealed by mining here and returning nothing – we cannot trust these sources that proclaim that they are to be trusted. How easy would (will) it be for a future leader to remove (replace) unfavourable data ? How do we know it isn’t happening now ? Does Google being a private company make it’s information any better / safer / less biased ? No, not at all. I can’t find the links right now but does anyone remember the dismissing of the film 9-11 when it was released ? Al the links went to a site that Google pointed to, that Google rated as #1, that Google – being a US based company – was probably asked by GWBush to do because that very link dismissed the film ? Google unbiased ? Crap – that would be like saying eating McDonald’s food is healthy.

What’s scary though is the way that if data mining is invading our lives so insidiously yet meeting no resistance, then our children will (are) be data mined as a matter of course and as such they will neither contest the fact that it happens, nor will they contest the results. Isn’t that scary ?

Garbage In Garbage Out – I wonder if people apply that to computers but possibly not to sites ?

In some films, one of the characters will go to a place they recall yet find that someone else is living there, that despite what they have in their mind there is no evidence to support them and even evidence that contradicts their experience to the point that they doubt themselves. That’s what we are heading toward isn’t it ? If Search Engines can make facts disappear, they can make new facts appear too – and if Google says it, then it must be true !

Where did childhood go ? Being an irresponsible teenager ? Being able to make a ‘Fresh Start’ ? Making mistakes ? LIVING ?

4 thoughts on “Data Mining

  1. Unless we, as a society, evolve to a slightly more mature level where we stop to care about who a guy shagged or what he smoked 30 years before, to judge him on his abilities to lead a bunch of people…
    Ahem.. alright, not likely.

    More seriously though, this has already happened… You could virtually reveal anything about anybody. And if somebody did something, it will always come up (even if there wasn’t any internet at the time it was done, there were people, and these people are on the internet). Now, as you’ll have noticed, a more than cloudy past didn’t prevent certain people <cough> Dubya &ltcough>, to be elected at the highest position in countries famous for its media saturation and attention to the trivial… I think the answer is that, with proper spin doctoring and information doctoring, the leaders of tomorrow have nothing to worry about as far as hiding their past: sure google, sure archives… but so many of it that it nearly loses its credibility (it is only, after all, bits on a piece of metal somewhere: probably the easiest thing in the work to fake)…

    As for Google being biased: I know you got your beef with them. Dunno how much they deserve of it, but I can tell you one thing for sure, they are not in the business of dealing political content in one way or another… They whole business relies too much on the sacrosanct idea that content is unbiased (unlike their ads, which is something else), they just cannot afford even the slightest shadow of a doubt on their practice (and, as you said, everything comes up on the internet one day or another)… Beside, Google was actually the highest concentration of execs contribution in a Silicon Valley company to the Democratic ticket during the last elections, hardly pro-Bush at all…

  2. But bring it all down in scale to you / me / a teenager.
    We don’t have the resources to spin our way out of our history, we can be put under the microscope and what we did can be used by others to haunt us. Maybe it’s because we (me ?) have not appreciated the power that data gathering has because of a combination of age, the willingness to explore technology, the revealing of information about ourselves.

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