It is almost impossible to read anything in this era, print or digital, that does not include, somewhere, an overture to ‘data’. That is: the collection of information in aggregate, over the internet, by a sophisticated amalgam of software and hardware that now almost literally tracks every single footstep we take. This rant is not about scientific or academic data, it is not about earthquake models or astronomical observations, or complex biological and physical experimentation such as happens at CERN or at Harvard Medical School, no, this rant is about usage data as it applies to the the cyclical, seemingly cannibalistic, ecology of ‘insights’ begetting businesses to provide ‘insights’. ‘Insights’ of course being the terabytes of user and usage information collected for the sole purpose of delivering targeted advertising online and increasingly in ‘enhanced’ or ‘augmented’ reality settings, via whatever device is being used.
I mean, what happens if they have ALL the fucking data, down to the electron spin for every molecule in every human being on earth? I don’t really understand the obsession with more and more and more data. You know what, fresh water resources are about to collapse, the glaciers are pretty much done, and in the United States we have a bunch of asshole fundamentalists who are trying to return to the days when women could be tortured and executed for witchcraft. When is all this data going to do anything besides generate super-marketing-insight-wizard-sales opportunities? Another question: does this marketizing-branding-sales-advertisement-voodoo even really work?? I’ve never seen data to prove the argument that more data generates anything except more clicks or views, those clicks sell ads, but does it result in a measurable increase in the amount of product sold or otherwise consumed? We’re selling data to sell ads to sell clicks to………I don’t even know where the hell this idiotic trail of nothingness leads.
Now, I am far from ignorant of the deep ironies here, and the potential for hypocrisy. I have a blog, I am blogging right now, and I check statistics about visits here and for other electronic depots I maintain (usually for the sole purpose of rambling or whining), and I realize that without the advertising revenue delivered by all this data that many of my favorite websites would fold immediately. I’m just saying, where does it end? Is there an end? Is the hope here that eventually the future will be revealed upon a cloud of infinite, parsed, visualized data? Or is everyone just chasing a rapidly shrinking margin of utility?