02629: Your Life In Data

One of the Google features I oddly enjoy using is the Timeline feature within Google Maps. This allows me to track everywhere I've been (or at least where my phone has been) in case I ever want to remember when I visited a particular place. This indexing of my location data (not visible publicly of course) is part of Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Most people think this mission is limited to the internet but Google's many projects (especially as Alphabet, Inc.) really touch on expanding beyond that into other parts of our lives.

It's easy to look at this sort of thing as being creepy. After all, this is data that you wouldn't normally have access to and now Google has made it usable data by tracking it, collecting it, and indexing it. And thus a lot of trust is needed between you and the company.

In light of the current Faceboook controversy with Cambridge Analytica, it's easy to want to pull back and restrict as much of your data as possible. But that's not necessarily the lesson we need to walk away from here. Data collection is happening all around us whether we like it or not - a lot of times in an effort to improve our lives and give various computers more information to work with. So in the end it boils down to who you want to trust with your data.

I'm still a Googlephile despite all the ups and downs over the years. I still trust the sort of social contract Google inherently adheres to when it comes to its users and I'd like to think that I continue to reap the benefits of trusting in Google for these sorts of things. Facebook I've always been on the fence about even before the Cambridge Analytica scandal and so I've been careful about what data I've chosen to share and otherwise I've restricted who has access to that data among friends. I hadn't fully factored in Facebook being a total idiot when it comes to managing that data well and that's something to reconsider.

Who do you trust with your data? Do you really think we can stop all data collection? When you can't stop data collection, do you at least feel you're still in control of it?