Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mountains of Data, Explained in a Down-to-Earth Way

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)Dataclysm: Who We Are by Christian Rudder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a really, really long time to read this book, but it wasn't the book's fault. Nearly every paragraph in there is fascinating.

The author is one of the founders of OKCupid, and as such he found himself sitting on top of a lot of data. It's astounding what kind of behavioral conclusions can be drawn, not from the individual profiles, but from aggregating the data across all the profiles.


Further, Rudder doesn't stick only to the data about male-female relations gleaned from OKCupid, such as the fact that as far as potential male mates are concerned, a woman has already reached her peak attractiveness slightly before her 21st birthday. He goes on to address other kinds of data gleaned from our social media postings and how it has been accessed and applied by other researchers. He delves into the implications of voluntarily giving up vast swathes of privacy, and the implications of accessing the vastest troves of knowledge the human race has ever been able to access.

He portrays the good, bad, and ugly faces of the Internet--and comes out surprisingly hopeful for the future of humanity.

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I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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