Data for All by John K. Thompson covers data in the most holistic sense. For someone that is not involved in data science, defining the term data can be difficult. If data science is the study of data, what exactly is being studied? Thompson starts at the beginning when defining a term that has increased in scope in common usage, but more importantly, in a technical sense. He outlines the life cycle of files sent over networks and how much information is gathered outside of the actual file that is being sent. For every server or device that information is bounced around in, another trace is left. Under normal circumstances, this information is lost in the vast unorganized mess as pieces are allowed to be overwritten and users of these servers assume that there is nothing malicious occurring. But because there is no obvious malicious usage of our data now, does that mean we should continue to allow it to be so freely available when a malicious actor decides to act on it?
Our data is a byproduct of our online existence. By analyzing that data, insights can be generated to work against us. Thompson believes that data is going to become the new biggest commodity and those who treat it as such will be the pioneers of a transformed economy. As data becomes more central to the economy and our everyday lives, how will the legal ownership of that data be challenged? While we consent to websites collecting our data, do consumers really understand what’s being collected and how it’s being used, and by who?
Data for All is as inquisitive about the future as it is hopeful about it. While much of the beginning spells doom and gloom for your online privacy and data ownership, it outlines possible scenarios where there is a mutual benefit between businesses that want to use your data and the individuals that give their data. The final chapter focuses on the future, both as a realistic outlook on what is trending upwards, and what could be done to raise awareness of your data’s lifecycle.
If you’re interested in reading Data for All, the book can be found here, or by clicking the image above, with a 35% discount code ‘nltechtarget21.’