This week’s class discussion on big data was particularly awesome. I’ve enjoyed splitting into groups during class, as exploring my classmates’ perspectives in smaller groups has been interesting. With the amount of time we’ve gotten to talk, I’ve really gotten to learn others’ thoughts on the issues and why they feel that way – what experiences they’ve had to lead them to feel that way. My feelings on big data (data mining in general) are pretty clear cut (I don’t really care how much data is collected on me or what it’s used for) so it’s been cool to see how others think and why they think it.
Maybe I’m so unconcerned about data mining because I’m unmarried, not a homeowner, have no children, and my credit is in pretty good shape. Maybe I’m so open about my online life because my online life is boring. Maybe I would be more concerned about my privacy if I had something to hide – so I don’t. I call my bank to tell them when I’m going on vacation because I don’t want my debit card frozen when I get to a new area. I post my location on Instagram because people don’t really stalk other people on social media, do they? I make friends online and I’m forthcoming with things like my Facebook, my SnapChat username, and even my email address because, honestly, what’s going to happen?
During the live session, I stated that I don’t care what data is collected if it makes my life easier. I feel fairly strongly about this. For example – I frequently sell old clothes on eBay. To do this, you have to set up a PayPal account. To receive your money from PayPal, you have to either request a check by mail (which takes a long time, and might not even be an option soon enough) or input your banking information, including your checking account and routing number, and a form of identity verification, such as your social security number. I didn’t think twice about providing PayPal with this information. Now my money is directly deposited into my checking account. My employer also has this information – my paychecks are directly deposited. Syracuse even has this information – I pay my tuition online.
Am I worried about getting hacked? Not really. Should I be? Probably. If there’s one thing we’ve seen in the news lately, it’s that hacking is very real and apparently very easy (probably even easier now that I’ve told the Internet what information I have out there). And yet, in all this time that I’ve been building my online presence, my debit card was only replaced once. That’s pretty good, considering I’ve had a debit card since I wa about fourteen.
So how safe is the internet, really? What information is being collected from us, and for what purpose? This was something we explored during the live session. But it was hard for us to come up with answers. For the life of me, I couldn’t think of more than a handful of things institutions like the banks might want from me, and coming up with reasons why they might want that information was even harder. Do they just want to know? Is it a matter of being nosy, or determining demographics and statistical information? I’m still not sure I understand it entirely, even after the live discussion this week.
Moving forward, I think it’s time I look more into this issue. I distinctly remember, during our private group, that Tracey remarked how us surprised she was that us fresh-out-of-college kids don’t seem to care what data of ours is out there. She seemed particularly surprised. Maybe my cavalier attitude is worrying. Maybe I should be more aware of what’s going on, and more concerned about where my data is and who’s accessing it. But the truth of the matter is that I just don’t know enough about the process to be concerned. Maybe the uncertainty should worry me! There are a lot of maybes. The only thing I know for sure, is that I should do some research and educate myself more on this topic.
What we covered in the live session this week and in the asynchronous material was great – it definitely provided me with a background on the issue and some preliminary information on the topic. But if I really want to understand who’s accessing my data and what they’re doing with it, I need to learn more. Big data isn’t something that just applies to companies and people with mortgages and children – this issue is very relevant to me, and this week made me realize that I need to care more about it.