Thursday, November 21, 2013

Big Data Bot on a Human Diet

For about a year, the interest in "Big Data" has surged manyfold.

In 2013, the volume of search queries on the term "Big Data" has clearly outpaced searches on acclaimed tech staples like "TechCrunch" and "Mashable" - at least according to Google trends:

The rise of the "Big Data" wave according to Google trends

Rare are the instances where you participate in a tech or startup event in the Silicon Valley without hearing most touting big data for this or big data for that.

It makes sense.

The digital flows of the Internet are ever accelerating.  Broadband Internet connections become ubiquitous and the advent of the mobile era add new data streams to our digital pot.  Streams that are "always on".  Streams that are carrying an ever growing set of data.  A big one!

We started with the killer app that helped drive the adoption of the consumer Internet, email.  A few years later we added voice.  Now video is as easy as a single click and olfactory sensors have launched a few years ago (may need a few more years to see them on mobile consumer Internet apps).

The big data ocean is gaining new grounds.  The body API has already started to irrigate a new breed of mobile apps in various sectors.  Health, sport, commerce are few examples of promising verticals where new apps leverage data captured by body sensors to deliver new value add experiences.  Jawbone UP right?

Jawbone UP: an early example of an app built on the body API

In this new big data universe, as consumers, we tend to get over excited about the possibilities and may lose sight of the bot that comes with it.  In actuality, we only see big data through the prism of the bot.

And bot is no idiot.  Really?

As Eli Pariser eloquently puts it in this inspiring TED talk, the big data bot blows "filter bubbles" on us that shape the many facets of the big data prism.  Often leading to "info junk food" in our eyes and ears.

Info junk food coming out of the Big Data Bot's filter bubbles

The bot can be creepy.

In another recent TED Talk, a brilliant privacy expert, Alessandro Acquisiti, shares a riveting big data use case.  Imagine the bot easily determines who your two best friends are:

Bot determines who your two best friends are based on Facebook big data

Then, creates a marketing persona, just for the ads you'll see, who is a digital mishmash of the two:

Bot creates a marketing "anchor", just for you, from your best friends

Would this bot-induced privacy cost create any sort of actual consumer value for us?
Shouldn't we try to humanize the bot as opposed to robotizing the human?

I believe it's time to put the big data bot on a human diet.

To design meaningful end-to-end human experiences that create and sustain the notion of value add in our lives.  The rise of the E2E Movement may be a trend to watch in that motion of the mind.

If you feel this is worth a social talk, join our TED conversation!