Data Mining and its Use in Everyday Life

by Erin S
Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created and 90 percent of the data in the world today were produced within the past two years. Because the amount of data is growing and at such a large rate, the challenges of handling this data with the intention to use and to apply it using tools such as data mining has become more and more complex, and has caused a constant need to scale up to the large volume of data that must be interpreted. With this large influx of new data and information comes many new opportunities to use and to apply data mining. This most often seems to apply in a business sense, used in order to “improve customer service, better target marketing campaigns, identify high-risk clients, and improve production processes” or in other words to make money, such as when Walmart learned that people have a tendency to buy more Pop Tarts when there was a hurricane warning in the affected area and instructed store managers to place Pop Tarts near the entrance during hurricane season in order to boost sales. Other companies such as Facebook and Twitter make use of this data by selling it to other companies who then apply data mining better market their products by finding new customers  or by  better targeting their products to existing ones. However, data mining isn’t only useful to businesses. It can also affect different aspects of a person’s everyday life.

One example of this is a new app called Qloo. Qloo is sort of a “personalization engine.” It allows a person to enter the movies, music, books, TV shows, restaurants, bars, travel destinations or fashion brands that they like and will then start to make recommendations in these various categories. Qloo uses an algorithm that tags similarities among various items and makes recommendations based on these similarities. However, because Qloo seems to be in its beginning stages and targets a much larger range of interests, the associations used to make these recommendations tend to be weak and often inaccurate. One example that the writer in the article brought up was how he was prompted the suggestion for “The Joy of Cooking,” which he determined could only possibly be attributed to his love of the cartoon “Bob’s Burgers.” Qloo also allows users to follow one another and to see those who display similar tastes as their own.

However there are many other services other than Qloo that also utilize data mining to provide user recommendations, which tend to be much more accurate, as they focus more on a certain niche rather than trying to group all the different aspects of a person’s life together and provide suggestions based on such. One example of a more specific service that utilizes data mining and is also incredibly popular is Netflix. Netflix provides is users with different recommendations on what they might like to watch based on data involving what users watch, what they search for and what they rate, as well as the time of day, the date, and what device they use to view it on.  This complex system of analyzing data and providing suggestions has led to more than 75% of Netflix’s user activity being driven by recommendations. Netflix can also use this information to predict what kind of content it should buy or produce for its users in the future.

GoodReads is another popular service that applies databases. GoodReads is an online book recommendation engine. It applies a set of algorithms which look at over 20 billion different data points, taking into account the preferences of its nearly 6 million users, as well as the rating system that is a key component to the function of this site. Because the rating system is so key, each person is encouraged to rate at least 20 books before viewing their suggested reading list. The site then is able to separate their different recommendations based by genre. Then, going even further, the user is also allowed to create certain shelves based on personal preferences and GoodReads will take these shelves and make even more recommendations based on their contents. Furthermore, GoodReads acts as a social network and allows its users to friend and follow other friends, authors, and people as well as view what they read, how they rated their books, and compare all this to their own books and ratings.

Other online services that make use of data mining include Pandora Radio, which provides its users with suggestions based on their music preferences and StumbleUpon which recommends its users different websites, photos and videos based on personal preferences and ratings.

Overall, while it may seem like big data and data mining are only important to big businesses and those looking to make a profit, databases still affect people on a more personal level and can help to improve different aspects of their everyday lives.

References

Betancourt, L. (2010, March 2). How companies are using your social media data. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2010/03/02/data-mining-social-media/

Biggs, J. (2011, December 28). GoodReads’ recommendation engine acquisition gooses the publishing game. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/28/goodreads-recommendation-engine-acquisition-gooses-the-publishing-game/

Bromwich, J. (2014, February 27). An app that makes recommendations based on tastes. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/02/nyregion/qloo-an-app-that-makes-recommendations-based-on-tastes.html?ref=appcity&_r=0

Bylund, A. (2013, July 24). 3 takeaways you might have missed when netflix reported earnings. Retrieved from http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/07/24/3-takeaways-you-might-have-missed-when-netflix-rep.aspx

Fourtané, S. (2013, May 3). big data tales: Walmart’s introduction. Retrieved from http://www.bigdatarepublic.com/author.asp?section_id=2747&doc_id=262692

Poggi, J. (2013, September 2). Data-mining boosts Netflix’s subscriber base, showbiz clout. Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/special-report-marketer-alist-2013/data-mining-boosts-netflix-s-subscriber-base-showbiz-clout/243759/

Why should I be considering data mining?. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.albionresearch.com/data_mining/why.php

Wu, X., Zhu, X., Wu, G., & Ding, W. (2014). Data Mining with Big Data. IEEE Transactions On Knowledge & Data Engineering, 26(1), 97-107. doi:10.1109/TKDE.2013.109

Titlow, J. (2011, September 14). Using 20 billion data points, GoodReads will recommend your next book. Retrieved from http://readwrite.com/2011/09/14/goodreads_book_recommendation_engine_launched

 

14 thoughts on “Data Mining and its Use in Everyday Life

  • March 5, 2014 at 10:52 am
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    Yes, I agree with this article, the used of database is becoming more popular nowadays. Therefore, data mining would be a trend in the future.

  • March 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm
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    I like how your post focused on the individual and personal benefits of data mining rather than the standard information we hear about how companies and corporations use it for their own profit. Of the ones you mentioned, I have used Netflix and Pandora and have definitely seen the benefits of data mining for these applications. Netflix has recommended some great movies for me based off my previous views and Pandora has introduced me to awesome artists in the past. Data mining definitely has become prevalent in all types of apps and it will be interesting to see how it affects people individually besides just corporations in the future.

  • March 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm
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    I also heard of data mining in big businesses being the only time that my life would ever come into contact with them. I never knew that basically my whole life is being “mined” so to speak. I am a frequent user of netflix but i was always curious as to how they knew what i was watching and how they figured out what they should recommend to me. I didnt know they even recorded things such as what time i watch certain shows. Simply genius.

  • March 9, 2014 at 11:52 pm
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    Before this article i thought data mining was something related to forensics or something of that sort but finding out that it is why Facebook knows everything of what I did before i got to the page is kinda cool, i always thought it was just coincidence but knowing that there is a whole process behind it is kind of phenomenal.

  • March 11, 2014 at 2:16 pm
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    The application called Qloo sounds very interesting, this is my first time hearing about it. It looks like a application that i would like to use. You also did a great job on explaining who exactly the application worked instead of just mentioning how you can use it.

  • March 14, 2014 at 10:19 am
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    I agree with you that the use of database is very important in everyday life for businesses, government, and of course for us too. The popular databases that mention in your blogs, like Qloo and GoodReads, make it easy for user to access certain websites and applications.

  • March 14, 2014 at 11:51 pm
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    Database mining is eventually going to become crucial in the business world and will benefit business to customer relations.This is actually a very interesting article and it actually provides more evidence to my theory that Civilization will grow exponentially in the coming years due to the level technology we our at.

  • March 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm
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    It’s amazing that were present in this data revolution and a little bit scary. “90% of data of current data was created within the past 2 years” is such a crazy statistic. How different business are able to utilize this data in a meaningful way is the difference that will be the factor of success and failure.

  • March 17, 2014 at 8:09 pm
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    Data mining is a huge topic and very relevant to our futures as CIS majors. There are huge amounts of money to be made in the data mining field and people should be more aware of this topic. Big corporations buyout other corporations just because there’s enormous amounts of data within the other companies. Facebook bought out whatsapp for billions even though whatsapp does not generate the kind of revenue to make that purchase relevant. But whatsapp carries a big number of users which results in countless numbers of data per user.

  • March 18, 2014 at 6:28 pm
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    Data mining along with database is something I am very interested in doing for a career. I knew that companies were recording large amounts of data but I didn’t know to what extent. After viewing the presentation and reading the article I believe dating mining is basically mining for gold since if you use the information correctly you can make huge profits on the information.

  • March 18, 2014 at 9:27 pm
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    Although data mining can be very useful in a variety of businesses, I still feel uncomfortable with the idea that companies know what I’m watching and where I’m going on the internet. However, I definitely agree that it allows for much more personalization for websites such as Netflix.

  • March 18, 2014 at 10:29 pm
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    I’m still blown away by how much data is produced every day and I’m amazed that there is actually a quantifiable answer to that. It’s really useful that a lot of the data I produce is used to help me in terms of user recommendations through Netflix, Pandora, etc. but it does still feel a bit intrusive to know that I’m constantly being analyzed. However, I understand that it’s just sort of a normal part of life now.

  • March 18, 2014 at 11:45 pm
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    I also believe it is amazing how most of the information that was created was within the last two years. If businesses are just using these tools I can only imagine how much information the government has on convicts, taxes, and other secret activities.

  • March 20, 2014 at 1:29 pm
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    Data mining is very important in this type of situation since the reputation of Qloo depends on the quality of the data given to the users. With it , one can refine data to meet the expectations of the users satisfaction even though there is a lot of data being mined.

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