Juking the Stats : Over-reliance on data makes the public go blind

I struggle with the widespread adoption of data these days. This may sound strange since I’ve always loved math and I’ve worked with data my entire career (and still do). The White House now has a Chief Data Scientist, and demand for people in my field seems to have exploded over the past few years. But I’m concerned about how quickly data as a practice is spreading across companies, not because it’s a bad trend in and of itself but because of how some people are using metrics. Let me explain.

Datacoup: Unlock the Value of Your Personal Data

Our mission to help people unlock the value of their personal data.
Almost every link in the economic chain has their hand in our collective data pocket. Data brokers in the US alone account for a $15bn industry, yet they have zero relationship with the consumers whose data they harvest and sell. They offer no discernible benefit back to the producers of this great data asset – you.

Hashtag Data Positive

Privacy, safety, and security aren’t sexy topics, and neither are condoms and STIs. But understanding them is critically important to being able to enjoy sex responsibly. And sex positivity, as a social construct, recast “consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, [encouraging] sexual pleasure and experimentation.”

My Quantified Email Self Experiment: A failure

I have an archive of my own email going back 18 years, containing 450,000 messages. One day I decided to make it searchable. Not half-searchable but fully, dynamically, programmably searchable.

My big idea was: If I can quickly look through all of my old emails I will be able to observe how my thoughts have evolved. I’ll learn something fundamental about myself and how I’ve grown as a person —for example, the difference between being in my early 20s and being 40.

This seemed like an interesting thing to do, so I did it. But the experiment was a failure, and not very edifying.

Google’s Fall from Grace

Google has handed over jounalists’ personal e-mails, IP addresses and contact data to US authorities. They did that clandestinely, and without any noticable resistance. Throughout the Western world we are seeing an onimous alliance taking shape between private data grabbers and secret services organziations doging the radar of public control. If we don’t do anything about this, it could soon be too late.

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