Everywhere we go we spew forth a veritable deluge of personal information, giving a detailed account of our daily lives to anyone with the tenacity to bother listening. The microscopic minutiae of our most mundane activities is the apparent life-blood of business in the era of 'Big Data'. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, and perhaps worryingly, it all seems entirely normal and not creepy in the slightest.
Before I started writing today I read a news website, watched a YouTube video of a TED talk, and started a Spotify playlist that my girlfriend created for our second anniversary. Three innocuous actions that thousands of people might have done in similar weekend rituals all over the world.
Now though, somewhere in an anonymous low-slung concrete building on a mid-Western US industrial estate, the analytical power of a data warehouse is connecting the dots between what news I read, people who like to hear speakers talking about ecology, and people who listen to Elbow. I've inadvertantly added myself to a network graph - a mathematical model that plots our likes and interests, and now the corporate world has a slightly better way of targeting me with their purnicious adverting. There's an amazing amount of information in just a few clicks, and by aggregatting the data and using a few statistical tricks practically any aspect of who you are can be inferred.