Big Data Essay

Submitted By a7588987drdrb
Words: 1919
Pages: 8

During the course of an ordinary work day I took it upon myself to record all of the instances in which I was required to produce any amount of personalized electronic data. The list not only astounded me, but frightened me as well. My day started at six in the morning with a swipe of my electronic key card at my gym. The data in the key card is attached to my social security number, phone number, address, birthdate, and credit card. On my way home I stopped at a coffee shop and paid with a debit card thereby producing another record of my location at an exact time and date. At home while getting ready for work, I logged into a podcast of my favorite National Public Radio show. My login information is connected to a credit card and all of my personal demographics. The time stamp I left while streaming online radio will most likely be saved on a massive server, available for recall for years on end. As disturbing as this seems, this is only the beginning, as my day to day job requires constant surveillance, both by proximity card, audio and video surveillance. Most people can tell you that if you desire privacy at your workplace, do not pursuit a career in corrections. In one eight hour day, my proximity card, which links to my personnel record, is recorded over fifty times a day. In order to enter or exit any door or hallway, one must swipe their proximity card, which logs the activity into a massive database that is backed up into a cloud server on an hourly basis. If you really wanted to know, you could find out exactly how many times I went to the bathroom today and for how long during each trip. To add insult to injury, upon leaving work and arriving on campus for my night class, I was required to swipe my credit card in order to park my car in the parking garage. This data does not even include the so called “passive data” that is collected from my GPS enabled smartphone simply by moving from one place to another while carrying it. And to think that I am just one in billions of people generating a far larger data footprint than I had ever imagined is mystifying. Consequently, as anxieties multiply over the growing forfeiture of privacy that technology users face, especially in the face of public scandals such as the U.S. National Security Agency’s surveillance of electronic communication and Facebook’s emotional manipulation experiment, the perpetual collection and storage of personal data has grown exponentially over the past few years. The volume at which new data is being generated is staggering. We live in an age when the amount of data we expect to be generated in the world is measured in exabytes and zettabyes. By 2025, the forecast is that the Internet will exceed the brain capacity of everyone living on the planet (Webb, 2011). In 2009, the digital universe grew 62 percent or almost 800,000 petabytes, which translates into a stack of DVDs reaching from the Earth to the moon and back (Cukier & Mayer-Schoenberger, 2013). By 2020, it is projected to be 44 times as big as it was in 2009 (those DVDs would be stacked up halfway to Mars) (Cukier & Mayer-Schoenberger, 2013).
But big data is not just about size. It’s about the sheer number of data sources available, its different formats, and the fact that most of it is user generated: 70 percent of thedigital universe is actually generated by all of us through email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube and other social media sites of the like (Dou, 2011). As of the year 2013 there were: one trillion unique URLs in Google’s index and two billion Google searches every day; 70 million videos available on YouTube; 133 million blogs, more than 29 billion tweets (and three million being added every day; and more than 500 million active Facebook users who spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the site (Cukier & Mayer-Schoenberger, 2013). With all that data being digitally proliferated, maintaining one’s privacy from government or