This is a history about how the use of Big Data can target customers and even figure out when a teen girl is pregnant before her own father does:
Target assigns every customer a Guest ID number, tied to their credit card, name, or email address that becomes a bucket that stores a history of everything they’ve bought and any demographic information Target has collected from them or bought from other sources. A statistician named Andrew Pole employee at Target looked at historical purchasing data for all the female customers who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past and found the following:
“As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.”
So, Target send out coupons for baby items to female customers who achieved those ‘pregnancy scores’. One day an angry man showed up in a Target shop outside of Minneapolis, yelling at the employees for sending his daughter these coupons when she was still in high school. Well… Unfortunately the coupons weren’t send to the wrong costumer – the girl was indeed pregnant! Is this kind of Big Data use unethical when it can interfere in people’s private lives? One thing is sure, companies like Target make a lot of money of targeting their costumers with the use of Big Data.
We keep talking about how linking to each other creates the network’s structure. Well hashtags are also a way of linking to other stuff online, and we should definitely continue using hashtags – but ONLY in writing. Imagine if we start speaking in hashtags…
Barabási, the Hungarian-American physicist born in Transylvania, Romania is known for his work in the research of network-theory. Barabási played a role in the discovery of the scale-free network concept, which figures in the category of statistical physics of complex systems. A scale-free network is a network whose degree distribution follows a power law, at least asymptotically. That is, the fraction P(k) of nodes in the network having k connections to other nodes goes for large values of k as where y is a parameter whose value is typically in the range 2 < y < 3, although occasionally it may lie outside these bounds (say what!?). In the readings for week 9: “The 80/20 Rule” and “Rich get Richer” Barabási explains his network-theory and how it developed.
I can’t say I totally understand his scale-free network concept. I think it seems complex and way to mathematical for me to understand compared to Castells and his power-in-networks theory. Barabási’s theory is clearly grounded in the positive ontology and the assumption that there is an objective reality ‘out there’ that we can observe, represent and make corresponding thrush claims about. Therefor the theory’s epistemology (what knowledge is and how we can acquire it) dualistic – it’s separating mind and matter. What I am trying to say is that Barabási’s theory measure data in order to understand the way we are all connected online, which for me seems kind of cryptic. What about questions like: “Why do nodes link to preferential nodes?” and “Why do nodes add themselves to networks and make them grow?”. Aren’t nodes the same as individuals and do individuals not have different demographics and psychographics which make them act and interpret differently inside networks, like Stuart Hall would say?
I’m not saying that the theory of the scale-free network doesn’t make sense at all, I’m just saying that I think there are missing pieces in the puzzle.
Am I an expert? According to Adrian I can be on my blog: “We all know experts, about something, who aren’t employed in that area. Now they can share and show that expertise”. Now I’ve spend around 2 weeks considering what my expertise could be? I know this may sound weird and stupid, but in Denmark we have these unwritten laws that goes under the name “Janteloven” (Who-do-you-think-you-are-law) which is an aggregation of ten rules that most people in Denmark grow up with. You could say that this law doesn’t really add up with the way we use social media today, where it’s always about telling your friends and the public about what you do, who your friends are and so on. This we do without asking ourselves; who do we think we are? I grew up with these ten rules and therefor I can’t help that they are pretty much stuck in the back of my head! Because of that I’m having a hard time trying NOT to ask myself; who do you think you are? Why are you so important that people would actually read what you are writing?
But but but… I think I know what I could be an expert in! Since I’m a study abroad student from Denmark I could write about being a danish girl in Melbourne. Clever right? This might also be a good opportunity for me to collect photos and memories, even though I’m still not completely comfortable with the whole “me, me, me” concept. Oh well, let’s see if that changes during this semester.
OK, I really don’t know how to start of this post. This whole blogging thing just makes me think about a lot of stuff. How do I want my blog to present itself to readers? Which attributes are the most appropriate and what should I write about besides the networked media related thinking?
All of this thinking is good or at least I think it is. One of my first thoughts about the fact that Adrian wants us to build up our own blog was that: “Can he actually force us to create our own blog?”. Especially because blogging is publishing and publishing is being public, so are we being forced to do public writing? I really thought a lot about this because it is kind of an ethical question, if you ask me. But with that being said I know that most people of my generation is using other types of social media as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., and when we use these types of media we are being just as public as when we write a blog post on our own blog. We just don’t have a teacher like Adrian reminding us that what we are writing is now out there!
So. From being really skeptical about this whole blogging thing, I now think that blogging in The Networked Media course, could give me the right skills to manage all of the publishing I do every day on the internet. Jesus, I’ve got a headache…
So, what does the word “blog” mean? According to Adrian Miles “A blog is a web based publication”. With that said I am now a writer who publishes her own words and therefor my words are now forever somewhere in the World Wide Web. The fact that it will always be “out there” after I hit the publish button, just creeps me out. But people still blog, in fact while I’m writing this post 68.699.764 people has a WordPress site.
So why do we blog? If anyone has the answer please comment. I will try to answer it myself during this semester, but for now you can watch this video: