In today's Wall Street Journal I ran across this little article about data gathering, mobile devices, and statistical analysis. It was another reminder of the importance of data and the debate about privacy and openness. I sure it is no coincidence that the piece runs on the heals of the current debate about Google and Apple's gathering of mobile location data without consumers knowledge. Not everyone intentions are good in this new world of free data and robust analysis.
Here is a video they had embedded as part of the article.
So, Steve Jobs and Apple is watching you. Oh, and so is Google with their Android devices. Does that worry you? A lot has been written and said in the last week as more information is discovered about just how much data these companies are collecting.
On the one hand you have those who say, "Stay out!" on the other you have those who say, "Hey maybe sharing this data might provide valuable future suggestions from these companies." I personally am torn. What data about my life should be kept to myself, what should I share with my friends and family, and finally what should I be sharing with companies and organizations?
It really is a two edged sword. The more I share the more someone else knows. They can either use that information to take advantage of me or help me. So, I guess it comes down to trust. Who do you trust? If you trust your friends and family with certain information then share it. If you trust a company will respect you and not abuse your trust then share the information.
I think the thing that bothers a lot of people is their apparent inability to choose what to make public and what to keep private. I think those companies that give the choice and then make a compelling case for why sharing is helpful to the customer, and then they don't ever abuse that trust then sharing is great.
Here are a few more clips that explain why so many companies want to grab your data. You can see after watching these that companies and individuals with access to data and robust analytical tools can do some pretty amazing things. Thus I believe the new currency of the future will be data and analysis. If you have the data you will be valuable, if you have the analysis skills you will be valuable.
First a video on the mobile data we are consuming and leaving behind. Combine that with the internet data we are leaving behind.
Now a series of videos about what companies and individuals can do with this data using analytical tools.
So in the end the question is still the same, do you trust your friend, company, and other organizations enough to share? If so, sharing might be a great thing, if not, don't share. Regardless, I think we all agree that we should have a choice. It would be comforting to know we had the ability to turn off our data trail to certain individuals and organizations.
A colleague at work just sent me this article as well. Very much related to this is the idea that your social media data is also being mined, analyzed and combined to get to know you better. That is why Wall Street is paying so much for the data.