Chapter 8. The Perils of Big Data

This chapter leads off with a relatively sunny view of data and personal freedom: Jonas Luster’s account of his satisfying relationship with Google. The clouds on the horizon come in with Tim O’Reilly’s question: “When does a company’s knowledge about me cross over into creepiness?” The government’s approaches to data privacy are then recounted, and finally two practitioners in the area of data, a lawyer and an executive cut to the chase: “Big Data is about much more than just correlating database tables and creating pattern recognition algorithms. It’s about money and power.”

One Man Willingly Gave Google His Data. See What Happened Next.

Google requires quid for its quo, but it offers something many don’t: user data access

by Jonas Luster

Despite some misgivings about the company’s product course and service permanence (I was an early and fanatical user of Google Wave), my relationship with Google is one of mutual symbiosis. Its “better mousetrap” approach to products and services, the width and breadth of online, mobile, and behind-the-scenes offerings saves me countless hours every week in exchange for a slice of my private life, laid bare before its algorithms and analyzed for marketing purposes.

I am writing this on a Chromebook by a lake, using Google Docs and images in Google Drive. I found my way here, through the thick underbrush along a long since forgotten former fishmonger’s trail, on Google Maps after Google Now offered me a glimpse ...

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