Sunday, March 31, 2013

Big Data

Earlier this month, we bought our film passes to the SxSW film event.  We always like to see how many movies  we can watch until our butts wear out and our brains turn into mush.  Usually,  you buy a ticket, keep it in your wallet or purse, and show it with your ID to get in the door.  This year, in an effort to get more and more high techy and swanky, the producers of the event  decided we all needed wrist bands. And these bands were put on by the staff pretty dang tight.  I can understand a wrist band for a night or even a weekend, but 9 days?

It seems a little much to ask anyone to wear anything that long.

Well the next morning, I got to reading and looking at the bracelet and I realized it had a chip in it.  You know, one of those RFID chips.

If you don't know what I'm talking about go to Wikipedia:

A radio-frequency identification system uses tags, or labels attached to the objects to be identified. Two-way radio transmitter-receivers called interrogators or readers send a signal to the tag and read its response. The readers generally transmit their observations to a computer system running RFID software or RFID middleware.
 RFID systems typically come in three configurations: One is a Passive Reader Active Tag (PRAT) system that has a passive reader which only receives radio signals from active tags (battery operated, transmit only). The reception range of a PRAT system reader can be adjusted from 1-2,000 feet.
Another configuration is an Active Reader Passive Tag (ARPT) system that has an active reader, which transmits interrogator signals and also receives authentication replies from passive tags. Finally, there is the Active Reader Active Tag (ARAT) system in which active tags are awoken with an interrogator signal from the active reader. 

The RFID tag can be affixed to an object and used to track and manage inventory, assets, people, etc. For example, it can be affixed to cars, computer equipment, books, mobile phones, etc.

So, after seeing that I had a tracker on my wrist, and after looking up the manufacturer, which called Austin its home by the way, I became the proverbial wolf with his paw in a trap.  Soon the equivalent of gnawing  my paw off began.  That's another story.

What I wanted to know is why use a chip? There are hundreds of volunteers at "south by" who are more than glad to put their eyes on you as you enter almost any venue.

The answer it appears is "Big Data."

Big Data, as the name implies is lots and lots of data....unimaginable and unmanagable amounts of data that couldn't possibly be useful to anyone.

Until now.

Big data[1][2] is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, transfer, analysis, and visualization. The trend to larger data sets is due to the additional information derivable from analysis of a single large set of related data, as compared to separate smaller sets with the same total amount of data, allowing correlations to be found to "spot business trends, determine quality of research, prevent diseases, combat crime, and determine real-time roadway traffic conditions."

And just as there is Moore's Law  which states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years, there is a similar law  called Kryder's Law  for storage cost per unit of information, which is roughly equal to the rate of increase in transistor count, if not a little faster.

This means that we can now not only afford to record enormous amounts of video, phone calls, emails, your position on a map, the restaurant you went to, the path you took home, and the pack of cigarettes you bought, we now have the computing power to make sense out of all that data.

RFID tags are tracking vehicles, airline passengers, Alzheimer's patients, your pets and cattle. Soon, they may even track your preference for chunky or creamy peanut butter.

So why would producers of a film festival want to put a RFID on your wrist?

In the most benign of views, to better understand their customers.  They will also someday be able to sell that data.

There is a new book on Big Data and here's their blurb:

A revelatory exploration of the hottest trend in technology and the dramatic impact it will have on the economy, science, and society at large.
Which paint color is most likely to tell you that a used car is in good shape? How can officials identify the most dangerous New York City manholes before they explode? And how did Google searches predict the spread of the H1N1 flu outbreak?
The key to answering these questions, and many more, is big data. “Big data” refers to our burgeoning ability to crunch vast collections of information, analyze it instantly, and draw sometimes profoundly surprising conclusions from it. This emerging science can translate myriad phenomena—from the price of airline tickets to the text of millions of books—into searchable form, and uses our increasing computing power to unearth epiphanies that we never could have seen before. A revolution on par with the Internet or perhaps even the printing press, big data will change the way we think about business, health, politics, education, and innovation in the years to come. It also poses fresh threats, from the inevitable end of privacy as we know it to the prospect of being penalized for things we haven’t even done yet, based on big data’s ability to predict our future behavior. 
In this brilliantly clear, often surprising work, two leading experts explain what big data is, how it will change our lives, and what we can do to protect ourselves from its hazards. Big Data is the first big book about the next big thing.

Actually, I think the first book about this was written a long time ago.

In it,  

War is Peace, 

Freedom is Slavery, and 

Ignorance is Strength.

And the Ministry of Love

just nabbed those terrorist.

With their Big Data.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

way cool. love the content. spot on

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really like your blog. So well thought out Thank you for sending it.

8:19 PM  

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