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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

DATA MINING VOTES

- What does the Obama re-election "app" really do?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
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The concept of Data Mining involves harvesting data, organizing it, and using it for such things as trend analysis. Historically, it is a technique used by companies in the absence of a managed data base environment whereby companies resigned themselves to simply pouring through huge volumes of data to arrive at some conclusions. More recently it has come to represent a technique for gathering data external to a company which is particularly useful for evaluating the likes and dislikes of consumers thereby providing the means to court their favor.

Recently, it was revealed the Obama re-election campaign is actively Data Mining the interests of potential voters. Some suspected the campaign was collecting data through such proprietary networks as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other sources, but this has not yet been proven. Critics cried "foul", that this was an insidious attempt to manipulate the election, but as someone who has been in the business a long time, I frankly wondered what took them so long to figure it out. With the advent of such things as social media, search engines, and smart phones, the means to Data Mining votes was begging to be implemented.

One item that is likely the cornerstone of the Obama Data Mining efforts is their "app" (also available on iTunes), a small program used on a smart phone. Although it provides handy campaign information, such as news and announcements, it is allegedly a backdoor approach to tracking a person's computing habits and interests. By having the "app" implanted on a phone, a viable mechanism is now in place to monitor and scrutinize such things as: a person's age and sex, their political and religious inclinations, their likes and dislikes, and much more. This data is then stored in a massive data base where it becomes a relatively simple matter to sift through and identify potential voters and make decisions to modify the candidate's campaign. By downloading the app, Obama supporters are giving more than just their support to the President, much more.

It appears the Democrats have a leg-up in terms of Data Mining, but I'm sure the Republicans are not far behind. As the 2012 election gets closer, we will all doubtless receive more campaign e-mails and telephone calls than ever before, regardless if we're on the "No-Call List" or if we have spam filters in place. What I find interesting is how easily we allow ourselves to jeopardize our identity and personal interests. I guess Big Brother is watching after all, but don't forget we were the ones who allowed him to do so. Data Mining votes may seem rather insidious, but it was inevitable.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:  
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


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