Thursday 25 October 2012

Data Breadcrumbs

One of the most thought provoking pieces I have read about Big Data is by Sandy Pentland HERE on the Edge website. 

The first few paragraphs of this piece;

I  believe  that  the  power  of  Big  Data  is  that  it  is  information  about  people's  behavior  instead  of information about their beliefs. 

It's about the behavior of customers, employees, and prospects for your new business. 

It's not about the things you post on Facebook, and it's not about your searches on Google, which is what most people think about, and it's not data from internal company processes and RFIDs. 

This sort of Big Data comes from things like location data off of your cell phone or credit card, it's the little data breadcrumbs that you leave behind you as you move around in the world.

What those breadcrumbs tell is the story of your life. 

It tells what you've chosen to do. 

That's very different than what you put on Facebook. 

What you put on Facebook is what you would like to tell people, edited according to the standards of the day. 

Who you actually are is determined by where you spend time, and which things you buy. 

Big data is increasingly about real behavior, and by analyzing this sort of data, scientists can tell an enormous amount about you. 

They can tell whether you are the sort of person who will pay back loans. 

They can tell you if you're likely to get diabetes

They can do this because the sort of person you are is largely determined by your social context, so if I can  see  some  of  your  behaviors,  I  can  infer  the  rest,  just  by  comparing  you  to  the  people  in  your crowd.

For more on the Trail of Breadcrumbs see HERE