Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race and Identity---What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves by Christian Rudder

Review: Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race and Identity---What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves
Christian Rudder
Broadway Books

Rudder takes a subject that could’ve made the Sahara look verdant and makes it not only enlightening but a good read.  This guy deserves some award for his service to readers like me.  In the meantime he’s showing us how similar and different we are as persons and groups of persons.   OK, we already know that---sort of, but he’s got the numbers to prove it.  Big samples that reflect the characteristics of the online users.  For those of us that managed to get through school without statistics as a requirement he explains what he’s done in ways that are understandable to us.

Dataclysm by Christian RudderThis is not a beach read, page turner item but I don’t think the readers mind that too much.  He’s revealing how the information is gathered and used.  Some of it I knew about and so do you.  The stores tracking your purchases, websites recording time and clicks, time and place on your photos.  Stuff like that.  But I didn’t realize you could get a good idea of gender, sexual preferences, race, political leanings, and HR departments’ dream, employment potential.  Or what about discovering the difference between saying and doing?  It’s all there and for some gathering agencies loads more.  This information isn’t just hometown stuff, it’s global if the gatherers decide to include that much in their samples.   How or should all this information be regulated?  He offers some insight on that topic too.  

His presentation helps put some of my privacy paranoia at bay by presenting how the information could be used in manners that go beyond economics or political intrigue without violating all those rules that we sign off on when we go online but never read.  Yeah, that “I accept” choice.  The whole enterprise is still evolving though and it remains to be seen if his optimism will prevail. 

Good read.  I recommend it.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

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