Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Going "Off the Graph"

That's not a typo, I'm curious about getting off the graph, not off the grid.  I love the grid.  It streams movies at me, and lets me get cash from a machine, and lets me send text messages, and lets me look up words I read in my digital book right there on the same tablet.
Königsberg's Troublesome Bridges

It's the graph that spooks me.  It's the connection of every digital transaction (money, tweet, border crossing, phone call) you ever make into one big fat map that suggests ("profiles?") who you are.

You don't have to be paranoid about the NSA watching every single thing you do.  (Ding! Just added a node to their graph.)  You could be paranoid about stores watching your buying habits to target you with marketing.  For instance, as my brother explains, when you purchase felt pads to keep your furniture from scratching the floor, you get added to a marketing list of new homeowners.  It's presumed that your sudden care for floors stems from presently owning them, instead of renting them.

Is it possible to reduce the number of nodes you're adding to your graph, in this day and age?  I'm curious.  Drug dealers have been doing it for ages with "burner phones."  Executives count on the fact that their hotel pay-per-view purchases will be "discreetly charged."  You can't surprise your partner on Valentines' Day if they saw the hotel room deposit on your joint credit card statement.

So.  How far off the graph can a fully functional, modern-day, employed, human get?

1 comment:

  1. I actually don't mind stores and vendors trying to tailor their marketing towards my buying habits. They're going to advertise anyway, so why not show me ads for stuff that I'd actually like? The main improvement, in my opinion, should be algorithms getting better at noticing when my tastes change, and providing easy opt outs for stuff I don't want or need anymore. I want Google to recognize that when I search for "Hoboken" on the map, I mean the Italian restaurant nearby, not the city in New Jersey. The smart apps are just not smart enough yet, so they make some stupid assumptions (such as the new homeowner example).

    As for surprising your partner, you could keep a personal card in addition to the joint one. Easy :)