Let’s face it, everywhere you go on the internet, you are leaving a data trail. Transactions, status updates, sites visited… all of this data is being collected by one business or another. What do they do with all that information? They mine it.
Data mining is the extraction of hidden patterns in large quantities of data. Basically, it’s what happens everyday all around us. Say a business wants to know what ads were effective in your area for people of a certain age and gender. All they need to do is go to their databases of previous purchases, member records, and credit card records and BAM! They have their answer. Credit card companies use data mining to help prevent fraud.
Social networking sites are collecting vast quantities of data every day, all voluntarily given by the users. What these sites do with that data has caused some controversies as privacy advocates say they are selling all of our private details to the highest bidder. Most social networking sites are working hard to develop sensitive and editable privacy settings to help alleviate people’s concerns. Still, it is a concern. You have to be careful about what you put online as if there is enough out there, you could be identified even when the data is supposedly anonymous.
The thing is, businesses have been using data processing for centuries. With technological advances, they are now able to develop prospective and proactive information–they are able to reasonably predict what a consumer or group of consumers is going to do. They are better able to target ads, inventories, and store locations for increased profit. They can find previously unnoticed patterns in massive quantities of data.
Articles used to write this lesson:
The Value in Mining Data | Jonathan Wu | February 1, 2002
Data Mining: An Introduction | Mike Chapple
Facebook Data Reveal Secrets of American Culture | Mike Safford | 11 February 2010