aNewDomain.net — Lean Data is an initiative that tries to prevent 99 percent of us from drowning in a monstrous data ocean. It stands in stark contrast to mean data, which is essentially an undifferentiated big data collection that invades the most-personal corners of our lives. A new group called Capture The Ocean addresses the 99 percent who don’t own big data resources. After all, we are currently living in a world of data-haves and data-have-nots. It’s time to level the playing field and make our lives less exposed. Or as they say, information technology has a new resource — you.
In a world where commercial and governance decisions are made based on data, whether directly or indirectly, ownership of that data will determine who participates in those decisions. And those who not only don’t own data, but aren’t even online to generate data, will have no representation at all.”
The Target Debacle
We are living in a wild-west, take-no-prisoners, incredibly-invasive world. And it is just getting started. Target, recently the victim of a serious data theft, is one of those corporations in the 1 percent that have access to data. This is indicative of how this data affects us, and why there needs to be limits.
[The] killer anecdote was of the man who stormed into a Target near Minneapolis and complained to the manager that the company was sending coupons for baby clothes and maternity wear to his teenage daughter. The manager apologised profusely and later called to apologise again – only to be told that the teenager was indeed pregnant. Her father hadn’t realised. Target, after analysing her purchases of unscented wipes and magnesium supplements, had.”
For more on the questionable uses of data see here.
Excuse the pun but we are all being targeted through our data. Target is hardly the only example, and it is only a matter of time before these tactics become more-widely used and more accurate.
Lean, Not So Mean Data
Here’s a six-step list that will help make data more lean and a whole lot less mean:
1. Just like land rights, we need to ensure that data ownership is meaningful and distributed, or we risk centralizing power in companies and institutions and away from the people whose relationships are being sold (Sean Martin McDonald quote).
2. Companies need to know that they should only collect the data and hold it for as long as necessary for the operation of the business (Edward Snowden at SXSW quote).
3. Become intellectually involved. One reason for our complacency is that we lack the intellectual framework to grasp the new kinds of political injustices characteristic of today’s information society.
4. Push for congressional action. National laws regulating state involvement in communications surveillance are mostly inadequate or simply do not exist. To demonstrate state and Congress’ commitment to protect privacy and ensure people communicate freely, states can start by immediately revising their own laws and the role of the judiciary, to correct serious gaps in most national legal frameworks.
5. Educate politicians and government. If the history of the FBI and NSA teaches us anything, it is that officials cannot be counted on to know the difference between legitimate surveillance and abuses of power. Constant checks on the judgment of insiders is vital. Transparency is not negotiable.
6. Understand and implement the importance of a human touch. The dirty secret of big data is that no algorithm can tell you what’s significant, or what it means. Data then becomes another problem for you to solve. A lean data approach starts with questions relevant to your business or work and finding ways to answer them through data, rather than sifting through countless data sets while invading the privacy of all those in that database.
How to Swim in the Data and Information Ocean
MIT Tech review warns-“Tapping into big data, researchers and planners are building mathematical models of personal and civic behavior. But the models may hide rather than reveal the deepest sources of social ills.” By Nicholas Carr on April 16, 2014
A global coalition called Necessary and Proportionate, undersigned by hundreds of organizations, has a legal definition of lean data principles. There are 13 in total — see the full definitions of them here.
- Legitimate Aim
- Competent Judicial Authority
- Due Process
- User Notification
- Public Oversight
- Integrity of Communications and Systems
- Safeguards for International Cooperation
- Safeguards Against Illegitimate Access
Big data, as it currently stands, is invasive, messy and sometimes effective. Data, though, is not an entirely bad thing. Lean data must be pursued, and with it comes a better representation of all of us. Taming the big data that we produce is key. See the infographic below for some data insights.
For aNewDomain.net, I’m David Michaelis.
Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at DavidMc@aNewDomain.net.