Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mobile running dogs

Sometimes I come across something which is thrilling and scary at the same time. The Newsweek piece, A Trillion Points of Data is one such article.

It describes the innovation insight that taps into our usage of mobile telephony as a means of tracking human behaviour.

Our absolute dependence on mobile phones has led our mobile phones to betray aspects of our privacy; they have become the running dogs of celcos who will make money from this piece of data stream.

At this point, it isn't serious because via our mobile phones we are little red dots of data stream that broadcasts our movements and, therefore, our behaviourial patterns. Even before GPS technology was available in phones we were already aware that law enforcement officials can actually use mobile phone cells to create a vector on our location.

But, this data mining of mobile telephone technology has taken things to the next level.

We have become little red dots whose movements are processed into analytical data that describes individual, communal and societal behaviourial trends and patterns.

This presents a gold mine of data for social scientists and, marketers...and, Big Brother?

As I said, it is exciting as it is scary.


Zubli Zainordin said...

Thinking of a phone conversation between a top Malaysian leader and a lawyer, about Altantuya...

walla said...

mekyam said...

hi ct!

which is why i've become rather anal abt things i let loose into the newly harnessed part of our ether. ;D

remember that old malay adage? the one that goes "cakap siang pandang2, cakap malam dengar2"?

i think it's time to add another caution. something along the line of "cakap fon bimbit, jaga2lah sikit!" :D

as you intimated, right now the data mining possibilities from mobile-phone (and other wireless) communications are almost limitless, as limitless as the imagination and creativity of those programmers and algorithm tweakers.

the only thing slowing them down i think is the massive volume of human communication and the variability and plasticity of human languages.

aside from the few thousand documented human languages and dialects, the internet has helped birthed many new hybrids from all kinds of social subgroups in almost every wired culture today.

some can be quite indecipherable that even seasoned cryptologists would lose hair, i tell you. so i say "bully for our still intractable human communication... yeah!"

even then, given the many word/phrase-recognition programmes already written out there, all those with vested interest need to do is just to keep monitoring and adding new lexicons to their base data as they emerge. [sigh!]