What do Google’s computers and Facebook’s, and Amazon’s, and Verizon’s, and all the other Internet servers know about me?
They know a lot, says Mark Rigely of San Francisco. His strangely beautiful video shows how emails, ISP data, weblogs and voice data are being used to paint our portraits, and how, with time, those portraits become dense with detail, pattern and personality.
It’s almost like there’s an image of us accumulating in that Cloud that will become an ever more vivid copy, with information we wouldn’t tell our best friends, our family or our spouse. But the Cloud knows.
“The average user will have 736 pieces of this personal information collected every day,” Rigeley says. What a specific number! I don’t know enough about information technology, but I’m trying to think: Is that phone numbers dialed? How long we talked? Key words? E-mail sent? Bills paid? Sites visited? How long I stayed? Tolls I paid? Subway rides taken? Destinations? Entry points? Groceries purchased? Prescriptions filled? Clicks I clicked? What else? Seven hundred and thirty six is a hard number for my imagination to conjure. And that’s just one day.
Krulwich is a Science Correspondent for NPR. His NPR blog, “Krulwich Wonders” features drawings, cartoons and videos that illustrate hard-to-see concepts in science.