Data is Power{1}

by Cole O’C
Since we are looking into linking database with websites via ASP.NET, and Google just consolidated their database for all their users, I thought it would be worth talking about. Last Thursday, March 1, Google removed the barriers that legally stopped them from linking all of a person’s electronic data together. Before, it kept things separately, such as your Google searches, the videos you have watched on YouTube, where you have gotten directions to on Maps, and so forth. Now, all of that data is mingled together in order to let Google sell you what they think you most want. “If you watched football clips on YouTube, an ad for upcoming matches might appear beside your [Gmail] inbox.” This gives Google a tremendous amount of power over the web experiences of literally countless amounts of people. One of the largest concerns to crop up since these changes is, “What if Google got hacked?” It is now safe to assume that every intelligence agency in the world wants access to the Google data servers. The amount of information that Google has in its servers is completely ridiculous, but in and of itself is not worth a cent more than the servers storing the data. Using data correctly is a staple of being a successful business in the modern world, no matter the amount of data available.

Conspiracy theories aside, it’s rather disconcerting how much Google knows about me. The majority of things I have bought in the last year could be figured out with their data, even if I did not buy them online. They could easily figure out my taste in music, some of my political standpoints, where I have travelled recently… since I’ve had an Android phone for years, the list would go on and on even longer than many other users.

Data is an incredibly powerful asset to any company, or even to any person, if used properly. Think about what you could learn about yourself or things you own if you had data about them. For example, I keep track of all my expenses related to my car since its purchase. That includes gas refills, what kind, at what price, how many miles I got, what parts were replaced, what services (oil refill, tire pressurization) I’ve had, and so forth. It’s an excellent way to keep track of the performance of my car. If suddenly my MPG drops by 15 over a few months, that’s a good cause for alarm. Keeping and knowing how to use data could really shine a new light on different activities of your life.

Freedland, Jonathan. (2012, Mar 2). The Guardian. Retrieved from Retrieved March 4, 2012