Data Data Everywhere

This map represents the following: Red dots indicate a tourist photo of NYC; blue dots, a resident; yellow dots cannot be determined, but are more likely to be tourists IMO near the Statue of Liberty, for example, and less likely to be tourists away from noted landmarks.

The gentleman who put this together, Erik Fisher, has a site on flickr with many more examples. Basically, he used other Flickr sites and a date range to estimate who's a tourist, who's not. 

And this is the power of the Internet, combined with the power of the database: The ability to connect disparate data together quickly and cheaply, producing new scales of knowledge - just think what this type of project would have required in 1980, for example. If not impossible, it would be near impossible without massive amounts of manual labor and effort.

Now, just takes a bright guy with some programming skills and a few weekends of time. 

That's the upside. The downside, of course, is that governments, companies, individuals can do the same, and who knows to what end they will use your data - think of what a bank could learn about you simply by putting your ATM withdrawls on a map. I'd dare say they would know pretty much where you spend most of your time, every day. 

Tip of the iceberg.

Your only hope of retaining the barest sliver of privacy in the coming Age of Aquarius: Spread your on-line data out to as many different providers as possible.

But even that will be mostly futile as the machines get faster and smarter.

Resistance is, indeed, mostly futile. But perhaps it's not a question of resistance anymore....

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