Personal Big Data is the New Black

Like Nicholas Felton I kept busy tracking the books I read, the movies I watched, the music I listened to, what I spent my money on and so on. I had grand ambitions for this data until a thought occurred to me - who gives a shit?

So I stopped collecting, well, I stopped collecting the data I had to manually track. I still use Mint and and the services I can pull data from like Twitter, Gmail, Facebook and so on.

Individually the data from these services have little use for me from a big data perspective BUT in aggregate the potential is tremendous. Eventually we’ll see a platform that aggregates all of these service and kicks out reports ABOUT US that are much more meaningful and insightful than we have access to currently.

So what will we see? We’ll see the frequency of how we communicate with friends and family (Google Voice + Gmail). We can track when and how we consume based (Mint) on life events (Foursquare + Google Calendar), like when do you call your mom or your ex-girlfriend (Google Voice). You’ll be able to correlate location (Foursquare) with spending (Mint) and sentiment (Gmail). You’ll correlate sleep patterns (FitBit) with coffee consumption (Mint) and mood (Twitter + Gmail + Facebook).

The point is, you’ll be able to cull your own data and begin to find patterns of behaviors or inefficiencies or new ways of thinking about yourself. I find this data much more compelling than how many books I read and which of my friends left a review for Gone Girl.

To take this a step further, and this is something I can get into in another post, but you’ll be able to compare your own behavior against benchmark behaviors for demographics, zip code and so on. As in, how does my sleeping and coffee consumption compare against white males (me) in my zip code.

There’s so much to be done in this space and not a lot of movement taking place though I can imagine that will change shortly.


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