Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Big data 11: living and working in an increasingly transparent world

Posted in business and convergent technologies by Timothy Platt on May 30, 2013

This is my eleventh installment in a series on an emerging capability that has become surrounded by hype, even as it has emerged as a powerfully disruptive societal force: big data (see Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time, postings 177 and following for Parts 1-7 and its continuation page, postings 207 and loosely following for Part 8-10.)

I have been writing in this series about big data and as both a positive and a negative force depending on how it is gathered, organized as a knowledge creating toolset, used and shared and by whom. And I ended Part 10 with a basic, fundamental question:

• Where are we going, and what can we as individuals and as businesses, and there perhaps particularly as small businesses, do to more effectively succeed in the midst of all of this?

My goal for this posting is to begin to set a stage for thinking through and answering that question, where big data is increasingly becoming a basic part of our lives and both as individuals and family members, and in our professional lives. And I wrote in direct anticipation of that goal when I wrote in the title of this posting that it is about “living and working in an increasingly transparent world.”

• You can’t state with any clarity or precision what something is simply by stating what it isn’t, but I would begin this posting by noting that my goal here is not to discuss or explain any particular legal jurisdiction’s personal privacy law or legal framework for protection of individuals or businesses from identity theft or loss of other confidential or proprietary information. It would come closer to the mark to state that my goal here is to discuss a compelling need to know what we put out there, and certainly through voluntary action when for example filling out online forms or joining online groups or social networking sites.
• And we all need to more fully understand how this information can be used and certainly when aggregated with other information.
• And we do need to know and understand what access and usage controls are in place, and certainly where we would have to actively opt-in to be covered by any protection that might be offered. We need to know when we have opt-in or opt-out control over who can see and use our information, and which of those is in place when either is.
• And we need to know our legal rights and where and how we would be able to take recourse if needed.

Think of this and related points that could be added to this discussion, as constituting what amounts to a new basic literacy-level skill set that has become essential for living in an increasingly cyber space and online-connected world. In that, awareness and understanding of personal privacy online, and of control and access of our personal information is as fundamental a skill set as knowing how to use a computer and related information processing and sharing technologies: basic computer literacy.

I write this as a short posting by word count and certainly for what I address here. But I write this as one of my more important postings, and certainly as change and the disruptive change taking place around us impact on what we need to know to be a safe and independent citizens and members of our increasingly interconnected world community.

I have recently posted thoughts on citizenship in this rapidly changing world that we all live in, and cite my postings there, here for their overall relevance to this set of issues:

Citizenship in an increasingly global context 1
• And its Part 2 and Part 3 continuations.

I am sure that I will come back to the larger set of issues raised there and in this posting and in this series as a whole, as I continue adding to this blog. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Ubiquitous Computing and Communications – everywhere all the time and its continuation page.


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