What Big Data knows

Big Data is the next big thing. Big Data collects information about us and sells it to businesses that want to market products and services to us. Big Data is huge nowadays.

Big Data is supposed to know everything about us, from the types of cars we drive to how many children we have in the household.

Axciom, a company that is really big in the Big Data area, is trying to win us over by making its data transparent. You can go to Axciom’s site aboutthedata.com to find out what Big Data knows about you.

What Big Data knows is what the credit-reporting agencies and public bodies know: How much you owe on your mortgage, when you bought your home, the number of credit cards you have. It also knows about some of your interests, based on periodicals you subscribe to and the purchases you make.

What Big Data doesn’t know, apparently, it infers. Here’s where it can use some help.

For example, Axciom thinks that based on my surname, I’m Arab. It thinks I’m single and that I vote Democratic. Wrong, wrong and wrong (sort of).

If you sign up at the Axciom web site, you can view all the Big Data about yourself, correct any inaccuracies or even opt out from Axciom collecting and distributing data about you. Those are nice touches, and make Big Data seem friendlier, less threatening.

I’m tempted not to help Axciom and let its errors stand. But on the chance that my suspected ethnicity might give me a problem the next time I go through customs, I will probably set the company straight about that.

– John Davis