Jen and I recently went to The Coop to pick a book each. By surprising coincidence, we ended up with a rather complementary selection.
For me, Big Data. It’s a non-fictional look at the implications of the relentless modern-day collection and analysis of data (much of it personal). It’s worth reading for lots of reasons. What I found most interesting was that given practically all the data and sufficient processing power, it’s no longer necessary to create a hypothesis. Using sufficiently sophisticated analysis, it’s possible to find correlations without any obvious causation. The notion that the data may tell a story no one could have anticipated at the time of its collection, underlines the trust we place in those who collect it.
Add to this Jen’s pick, The Circle, and the potential for disaster is clear for all to see. Set in the near future, the novel follows a young, technically proficient protagonist as her career progresses at a company intent on cataloging the world’s data via omnipresent cameras, single sign on credentials and a popular culture obsessed with sharing. Ostensibly all for the greater good, I’ll leave you to imagine how the story pans out.
Both books come highly recommended, and if anybody needs me, I’ll be busy spreading my online data across as many disparate services as I can find!