Data- a surprisingly interesting story

It has to be one of the most unenticing Economists front pages for a while -“The data deluge and how to handle it”.But it proves to be a right riveting read with some fresh jargon to enjoy. “Data Exhaust” is a my favourite-we all produce it and people are collecting it to see what i really like. The Digital equivalent of going through my garbage. why such a good read?

Data reveal patterns and those patterns are the stuff of human nature.Behind every pattern lies a story about people,government and business

Data offer glimpses into hidden behaviour only revealed by the data patterns.In Oakland California they looked at the arrests made in a particular area and found that the police were taking a sneeky day off on wednesdays.

Data has its dreamers: the open data movement believe that full disclosure will shine a light on inefficiency in central and local government in a way that calling in the management consultants never quite will. Fix my street highlights problems with the roads from citizen generated data

Data has its seeming good guys (who may turn out in the long run to be bad guys). Fill in the gap. But it may turn out to be Google. Data is their competitive advantage and you tend to guard that.

Data has its popularisers: click on the facebook advertising button and use their data to analyse target audiences. Data analysis made easy. Advertising targetting made cheap

Data has its conspirathy theorists: what is going on behind closed doors and will what Google collect be used to spy on us? It has already happened in mobile phones and News of the World has been caught red handed. What  happens if spooks get their hands on my Google searches and puts 2+2 together and comes up with 5. I am about to go to Pakistan (again) to give a talk to advertisers- my son is interested in the Middle East and Islam. We would both show up as searching from the same computer. Suspicious? No actually. But you can easily see how the data could be misinterpreted.

As a light is shined on Big Data-Google, Amazon and others-more stories will be revealed. Just as the Data Dreamers want “full disclosure” so there has to be full disclosure about the data that is held and who holds it and what protection there is. If not regulation will be stronger than it need be or should be, with unintended consequences. Expect this story to run and run. Data are not dull. There are lots of actors on the stage with their own story to tell. And big financial interests are being protected.It will  make the Tesco customer database look like innocent child’s play.

This will be the Decade of Data, with the Data analysts as the new Ubergeeks.

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