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Pointers to Our Lives

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 1:22 pm    Post subject: Pointers to Our Lives Reply with quote


Are we really talking about ourselves...or "pointers" to ourselves. For example, suppose you have a database with my chronological age: 47. The real crises is the point at which you start making extrapolations about me. It's not a problem that you know the date on which I was born...the problem (and it's always been with us) is what you do with that data. What type of credit or insurance do you give me. What do you think of my political beliefs.

The real identity crises in the last 30 years has been the growth of the relational database. This type of database assumes homogeneity across all tables. A person is a person who can be linked to any number of equivalent tables and a conclusion (or segregation) can be drawn.

Take my own case. I had one year of very bad financial problems caused by divorce, the Tech Bust and other factors. However, before and after I have maintained a well paying job, steady employment, stable address, money in the bank. The relational database does not have the capacity to take into account catastrophic events because it just averages it all in.

It doesn't account for rapid changes in opinion or personality. Suppose I convert from being a Democrat to a Republican. "On average" I am still a Democrat, even though my current opinions would be 180 degrees from a Democrat.

The real problem is not the pervasiveness of the technology, but the complete archiac nature and brittleness of it. Object oriented databases may allow for heterogeneous data collection, as would XML documents. Then there is of course our self-written stories on Facebook and Twitter. Imagine if someday, Savings and Loan officers go to our blogs and read about us and our past and make credit decisions based on our own words! Our data capture techniques should be as individualistic as we are.

As far as privacy, I say "feh". I want people to know who I am. I want them to get as much as my story as possible when evaluating me. Let it all hang out...let everyone in the neighborhood (just like back in the 60s) know who each other is and what they like to do. Don't hide it, flaunt it!
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