Suggesting a possible scale for Big Data: pleasing – creeping – freaking

2 weeks ago I gave a public speech for a group of marketeers. At first I was a bit surprised, as I’m an educational scientist by default, but they wanted to hear my opinion on the use of big data and youth. Fair enough. When preparing my speech and in the aftermath, I made up a little scale that maybe fun.

To be clear, this scale isn’t the result of any research (yet)!

Big data can be very useful, but can also go dreadful wrong, from a point of view of the user this can go from pleasing to freaking.

  • Pleasing is when as a user you don’t even seem to notice the use of big data, but the technology makes your life more pleasant and easy. I have a sat nav that tells me where there are issues on my road and helps me planning the best option. Little do most people know that this is the result of big data, even using cell phone signals to know where people are moving slow instead of at the expected speed.
  • Creeping is a second stage, with people being watched, but they don’t notice it really. If they find out, they feel a bit awkward, but then admit that the information was public. Creeping actually already has this meaning, if you check the urban dictionary.
    Following what is going on in someone’s life by watching their status messages on Instant Messengers such as MSN, and their updates to their social networking profiles on websites like Facebook or MySpace. Akin to stalking in the real world, but usually done to people who are your friends that would normally share this information with you, however you’re just too busy to keep up conversation with them.”
    My wife is still stalked by a dress she looked at on a website, with the dress popping up at many websites. Annoying, slightly creepy, but not too invasive.
  • Freaking also has already a lemma in the urban dictionary, but to me it is what happens when you feel betrayed and spied on by someone you really don’t know and who knows too much about you. Well, you freak out.
    Take this famous add:

    Or this story about how target knew that a teenage girl was pregnant before her father found out. Freaking is when big data and data mining goes wrong in the eye of the person being mined.

Well, what do you think? Open to suggestions.

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