Today’s post is a little late – sadly, not because I decided to take a day off for reading week, but because yesterday was a horrifying mess featuring threats, people being kicked out of the SU, and counsellors threatening to call the police. I guess it serves us right for trying to run a survey about something lads apparently find hilarious.
For the Rachel Ireland fans among you, however, be proud: She turned up outside the library that evening with a bunch of flowers. Too pure for this world. (See appendix J)
Today, I decided to have a look at some of the book blogs Stephen posted on QoL, and ended up rummaging through http://booktwo.org/, settling on a post entitled “Big Data, No Thanks”*, the edited text of a lecture the writer James Bridle gave in October 2015.
Big data, Vangie Beal explains, “ is a buzzword, or catch-phrase, meaning a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large it is difficult to process using traditional database and softwaretechniques. In most enterprise scenarios the volume of data is too big or it moves too fast or it exceeds current processing capacity. Despite these problems, big data has the potential to help companies improve operations and make faster, more intelligent decisions. This data, when captured, formatted, manipulated, stored, and analyzed can help a company to gain useful insight to increase revenues, get or retain customers, and improve operations.” That sounds like a good thing… Right?
Well, having read Bridle’s piece, I’m going to have to say “no”. All this excessive information, he explains, is the modern equivalent of a nuclear bomb, and we’re living in something similar to the Cold War, with physical destruction this time being replaced by the destruction of society and our very way of thinking. We’ve been bumbling on under the belief that you can never have too much information, and now we’re living in a world where people have access to all the names and addresses of every child in the UK, a HIV clinic’s medical records or a mobile provider’s customer data, and still we do not stop.
I do not use Microsoft Office anymore. I made the change when my laptop broke and no longer ran anything other than Spotify and Google Chrome (Winspool.drv is apparently missing or corrupted, but I have got my computer to replace this file, I’ve downloaded winspool replacements, I’ve installed glary utilities and done repairs through that: Nothing. I’ve done everything that you can do without paying someone else to do things, because I can barely afford bread let alone computer repairs), but have fully embraced the Google Docs life because being able to access all of my files at any time is really rather useful to me. If I need to send someone an article, I just have to send them a link. But it does beg the question of how many people can actually access these links.
I’m not overly worried about Obama reading my Facebook messages because all he’ll find is memes and bad puns, but I am worried about the concept of online privacy in general, when all of my finances and jobs are handled online.
*VIDEO TO BE RELEASED*
- I’ll be honest, I chose this post because Big Data is my favourite musical project, they’re just fantastic. Alan Wilkis is my idol.