Our mobile location data is no longer private and I can’t help but feel like this genie is never going back in. It also begs the question of whether it matters how much Apple makes privacy important.
You thought Cambridge Analytica was scary. Bloomberg just published a long read on Palantir.
The following was sent to subscribers of One Great Read, an email newsletter I send out periodically. Check out the archives and subscribe if you would like to receive them via email in the future.
So, about that once-a-week thing… Don’t worry though. I figured out a better system for choosing reads for this list and I have a bunch of them all queued up and ready for you.
Unless you completely avoid news, which BTW is really good for your health, you’ve likely seen a lot of news around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Shortly after it all happened, I was going through my todo list and came upon an item that read, “Request your personal data from Cambridge Analytica. It was from last year. Needless to say, I hadn’t gotten around to checking that todo item off my list.
Anyone with Facebook should most definitely download their data. Even if you never use it, download your data and see what they have on you. You’ll probably be as surprised as Brian X. Chen from the New York Times was. He wrote an article called “I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.”
All data leaks. This is not a property of the internet, but a property of data — just ask the Pharaohs of Egypt about their secret tombs. Data is observed (and therefore replicated), or obliterated through time. All public data has the power to replicate on its own. That may seem a strange statement, but I mean that it doesn’t have to be pushed to be preserved. It can be copied, learned by new people, archived in strange places, and ultimately passes out of control.
We are so close to gathering every possible morsel of data about us, imagine what could be possible once you owned every bit of data gathered about you. After some thought, I decided it’s more than just seeing personal data and abstract patterns of you. It’s about what these patterns will tell us about ourselves. Data collected about us will unfold a personal narrative and story to reveal a hidden part of us we are trained to ignore, a way to know ourselves and anticipate what comes next. Perhaps seeing the abstract patterns and rhythms of your self-tracking data is a short-cut to mindfulness. A quick and dirty way to boost your immune system, the benefits of meditation and self-reflection without much effort.
In 10 years, Felton says, all this data collection will be happening constantly and automatically. The idea sounds scary, at first, but Felton won’t mind a bit. By measuring ourselves privately and intelligently, we can potentially gain incredible insights into the choices we’ve made, and the choices we have yet to make. It’s not yet clear what kind of discoveries personal measurement will yield, but they’ll span the entirety of our lives from our health to our productivity.
I believe he’s correct and won’t be surprised if it’s sooner than 10 years.