Good summary this week from Time magazine on why the technology industry leans towards quantifiable data, via Evgeny Morozov’s new book, To Save Everything, Click Here. Quantifiable data can be gathered, stored, analyzed, and presented (and each of those stages can be monetized). That’s why digital, with its now-familiar cadence of clicks and CPCs, is so amenable to metrics, as compared to print and other media, where there are no clear measurements of return other than sales. But the concern is, am I broadcasting my data to the world?
That the technology sector more directly values quantifiable over qualitative data makes sense. It’s certain, data-driven ground, safe from the qualitative quicksand. And it’s something technology can do a fantastic job at: churning the data, interpolating the insights, and delivering them to as many people as possible is a valuable social good, whether its how much we can save by better energy practices, or what the data tell us about how we can live healthier lives. And what we share (anonymously, and scrupulously privacy-protected), helps, rather than hurts, those possibilities.
But don’t assume that data-oriented companies like 23andMe, FitBit, and others only care about what can be measured in units. It’s just what they (and technology) can do best. Rather, look to what these companies can do for you in measuring what can be measured, and combine that with what you, and only you, know about your own, unquantifiable self.
More at metadesign.com