For some time people have been talking about data: data mining, data exploiting, intelligent data, data analysis, etc… but, what is it for the common people? The normal user does not really know what all the fuzz about data is about. I will try to explain so users can understand why it is so important.
When we enter into a web page and they ask us for permission through cookies (for instance) you agree to share personal information that is very valuable to companies and organizations in general. You, as a person, may not be “very relevant” as a unique individual so you dont mind giving away those permission as long as they allow you to navigate. While you navigate you may use Amazon, facebook, read news, listen to podcasts or radio, etc. All that historical data is passed to companies alongside of many other users. Once those organizations have the information of hundreds, if not thousands or even million users (imagine how many users Amazon or Facebook have) then they can start “crossing” that data and they will “offer” you products based on the analysis performed over those many users. Dont you ask yourself how can it be than once you have made a search on “dog´s food” all you are having are adverts about pet´s food?
Now imagine that you are looking for some political news or following a political party. All that information is “catalogued” in the background so, when the time comes, you will receive relevant information on your interests. Now imagine that you live in a country where data can be used against you. Lets say that you belong to a minority not accepted (whether by gender, political thougts, race…) and “big brother” has your data. You, reader, may think that that is not happening in your country so, why should you bother? I will tell you why:
Data is important because people that are not very savy on internet and new technologies may fall under the tricks that are sent. I am not catatrophistic, it is a reality. There are entities around the globe specialized in creating what is called “fake news”…but not everything is “fake news” so, how do you tell one from another? Easy: compare, which is something people almost never do. The problem with people is that the more they are into something the less likely they will look for alternatives or hear the opposition’s view. You watch a debate in tv and the participants will never agree with the other part, regardless of what they say.
So, is having a lot of data a bad thing? NO!!! What is bad is the use that people may do out of it. There are data that are not controlled or even in a format that can be used, and since that data does not generate a political gain or does not provide a profit, companies are not interested in it. I will give you an example. I was recently doing my regular post-cancer follow-up with my doctor and he was looking into my tumor history and how everything had developed until now that I am cured (fingers crossed it will continue like this). Oncologists see hundreds of patients every year. If all that patient´s historical records could be loaded into a system that would contain treatment, axial computed tomographys, surgical interventions results, pathologies, etc then it would be much much easier to treat cancer patients because you could look at historical data that could help doctors to have a better diagnosis, even to prevent it!!!. However, we have a number of problems here:
- Data is “unstructured”: You rely on images to think of a treatment / cure. Tomographies, ecographies, medical computerised scanners and so on are difficult to transform into something “estructured” so some kind of regulation or common practise to record files (even at international level) should take place to make this happend under the same kind ot pattern – common agreement.
- IT programs used are BAD: IT activities, contracts or services are usually subcontracted by the local goverment and we know that anything that has to be with politics is usually stained: they award the program to “friends and family”, to the cheapest contractor so they can use the remaining money for something else, only do the neccessary so they can keep the position and secure the next election, etc. Unfortunately these sort of responsabilities should be taking place looking into something else that the next election, as it happens with anything else that takes time to develop and flowish such as education, transportation, etc.
I am a true believer in data. The more we have the better decitions we can take as those who have the information have the control and the power. Let´s create around us an environment where we promote the mentality change so people, instead of keeping the information of their departments, make it easy for everybody to understand what is happening. Companies with this mentality will be the ones that survive over the time.