This is a map test

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The dark side of big data

I caught a good episode of Q today while washing a large, shameful pile of overlooked dishes today. One of the topics was the amount of privacy control that people have on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. We’ve had these sorts of conversations in some of our social media classes, talking about the ethical code of these sites, as well as the rise and use of big data, and it’s generally been around the topic of targeted advertising

But this conversation focused on a darker side of things, and that’s the tracking and predicting of people’s actions and whereabouts, all garnered from the information gathered from social media sites. A software called Riot (Rapid Information Overlay Technology), created by the defense contractor Raytheon, collects geographical data from people checking in to places using Foursquare or Facebook, Twitter references, and even analyzes photos to sift locations from photos that the user took or was tagged in. The software than quickly analyzes the data and shows the trends of the target and can generate predictions of where they will be based on those trends.

This is a little disconcerting.  I hate to sound like an alarmist, but 1984 certainly pops into your head when you read and hear about these sorts of software (Big brother data?). Though admittedly it is neat to see the new potential for GIS. I really need to check my privacy sittings…

Have a look and listen and see how you feel about it. Here’s an article from the guardian that discusses it (not in a positive light). It’s got a good video of the software in use: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/10/software-tracks-social-media-defence. And here’s the Q podcast of the episode:  http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/qpodcast_20130225_24564.mp3

 

Hot off the press

Here’s another map that I made for a database management course. We manipulated data in Microsoft Access, creating new tables and relationships, and than linked it to a shapefile of Banff properties. It’s nice to actually portray the data so that you can see it in a spatial context.

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