Data Mining for Fool’s Gold

Fool's Gold (Iron Pyrite - Humboldt State University)

Fool's Gold (Iron Pyrite - Humboldt State University)

Committed narcissists and egosurfers will already be intimately familiar with the results of Googling their own names. But in “Find Out How the Web Sees You”, today’s New Scientist offers a quick look at Personas, a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the technique of data mining.

As the authors of Personas explain, “in a world where fortunes are sought through data-mining vast information repositories, the computer is our indispensable but far from infallible assistant. Personas demonstrates the computer’s uncanny insights and its inadvertent error, such as mischaracterizations caused by the inability to separate data from multiple owners of the same name [in my case, a former judge in Florida, a law enforcement officer in California, an activist in Christian ministries, a “fantastic” horn player, and numerous others] . It is meant for the viewer to reflect on our current and future world, where digital histories are as important if not more important than oral histories, and computational methods of condensing our digital traces are opaque and socially ignorant.”

As the principal behind Personas suggests, “[Data mining] is always presented so authoritatively, when in reality what’s happening behind the scenes is controlled voodoo.”

Published in: on August 27, 2009 at 12:07 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Very interesting article, competently delivered a thought. And this is the most important.

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