You log on Facebook and what is one of the first notifications you get? (or at least you get if you opted into them) A look back into your activity on that day for the entirety of your life on FB. What did you do on April 10, 2011? 2010? Small thing, right? Kinda cool to look back and see that clever comment you made on your cousins post or when you became friends with that person that you have now since muted… It’s neat to look into the past and remember when… fill in the blank.
It’s also extremely valuable to FB and they want you to post more. They want to build a history of you.
The more you engage with social media the more apt they are to recognize your likes and dislikes, who you will vote for in the upcoming election, what you are likely to buy, etc. and then they can sell this information. You can see how valuable this social mapping is. You don’t even realize you are participating in a business model or that you are providing the keys to your belief system. With the advanced algorithms and data science behind the mountains of servers they leverage, they probably know you better than you know yourself. FB isn’t the only one. Amazon, Google, Twitter, Walmart, the list goes on and on.
One large purchaser of your data is the government, but that is for another time.
I’m not writing anything new here. Big data has been around for awhile. However, there is one marketplace that seems so obvious that I don’t know how I missed it earlier. Finance.
The world of finance has been much slower in adopting new technology and big data, but they are coming up to speed very quickly. Privacy laws being the greatest hinderance to the growth of this market, but it just a matter of time and ingenuity to get this mainstream.
There are slew of early stage companies that are posing as analytical tools for you to know where your money is going, how you are spending, how your assets are performing, and how you can budget better. The fancy pie charts and graphs are undoubtedly useful to the consumer, but the true power is understanding the consumers spending habits and how to sell them more products – say a loan perhaps. This becomes even more valuable when it hits a critical mass point, where you have enough data to look at group behavior and trends. The more people contribute, the better the insights.
I am no expert in this field, but I think it is important to know what is actually happening to your online data. Your digital footprint is being tracked. We leave bread crumbs all over the internet for people to pick up and consume. I believe its important to know that nothing you do is truly a secret. The end goal for these companies is essentially the same, to anticipate what you will want to buy next. From a TV to a mortgage. I think its powerful to know that.
The future from here is anyone’s guess. There has never been a more technologically advanced time in the history of mankind and it is still rapidly changing. The fear of the unknown can be scary as the ability to harness this data is extremely powerful. The doomsday scenario is that all of your data is complied into one online profile and used against you. Your medical history, political views, religious beliefs, spending habits, everything available on you, available to be purchased.