10 things we didn't know about each other but found out through the internet
The future belongs to big data.
Think about it – 90% of the data in the world today was created in the last two years alone. And by 2020 the amount of data will have grown 50-fold to 40 trillion gigabytes. Facebook currently collects more than 500 terabytes of data every single day (enough to fill 100,000 DVDs).
So what happens to all of that information? Currently, not too much. It is stored on servers in data centers in remote places, waiting to be tapped into by companies like Google or Facebook, by consumer brands, by governments (or government agencies) and by individuals capable of filtering through the vast amount of information.
In the hands of the right people, this data can reveal wonders about us and can be used to tailor messages to our needs and simplify our lives. In the hands of the wrong people, however, this data could potentially be used against us.
Ever since you first set a finger on a keyboard and entered the world of the web, you left behind a trail of data. For people like us, that means more than 10 years of our personal data is floating around – somewhere. And for the non-whistleblower type like we are, that information is usually difficult to access. Or is it?
We gave it a try by stalking each other on the Web:
Patrick’s Web profile (stalked by Ilona)
1. There are two images of Patrick that come up, and in both he is smiling enthusiastically. If I didn’t already know him, I would think that he A) is a positive and cheery fellow, B) he doesn’t take too many pictures of himself, so he’s not egomaniacal or C) he can’t possibly wear matchy, daintily-draped linen scarves. But I know Patrick, so I know better: the correct answer is D) none of the above.
2. There is another Patrick Naumann out there, and he really, really, really likes himself. Plenty of images of him everywhere, liking himself a whole lot.
3. Thanks to his Linkedin profile, I now know that Patrick has a law degree – impressive. Which would help explain why he makes a counterpoint for just about everything that is said in the office (even if he actually agrees with you).
4. Patrick has a Pinterest account, cool. He has some really interesting images pinned on there, also cool. His profile name is “Pokeymouth,” hmmmmm … not so cool.
5. Patrick has over 3,000 friends on Facebook. Wow. Suddenly my 900 friends makes me feel inadequate. And suddenly I reiterate the egomaniacal part.
Ilona’s Web profile (stalked by Patrick)
Finding dirt on Ilona is not as easy as I had imagined. The web is an enormous place and – let’s face it – Ilona is not that important. Still, after some digging, I did find 5 (interesting) details:
1. Ilona really is as old as she says she is. Period.
2. Ilona B. once went by the name of Ilona M. Stumbling upon this fact made me wonder why she had changed her name. I immediately came to two conclusions: Ilona was married at one point in time. Or she’s part of a witness relocation program. I started to look for evidence on theory number two…
3. As it turns out, Ilona indeed once was married. And for 99 cents I could’ve downloaded her marriage certificate. But then I thought to myself: I have 99 cents and I’m not spending it on that. After all, the internet is a free place, right?
4. Ilona is into riflery and horseback riding… simultaneously?
5. After I found out about her love for firearms and stallions, I discontinued my web stalking (I just couldn’t process that mental image). All in all, I managed to find quite a few (albeit unspectacular) details about my dear colleague and I hadn’t even started to look into her closest friends and relatives.
Whether you’re trying to stalk your friends or – more relevant perhaps – you want to improve your business efforts by collecting data on your customers, the web has all the information you could ever dream of. That’s amazing and frightening at the same time.