Big data wants to know how you will vote in November (it also wanted to know how voters would lean in the Scottish national vote and other exercises in democracy around the world). Well, not big data exactly but other bigs: big business, big campaigns. But there is no data about the future. Events about the future, however, are known. And because there is no data about the future, pollsters want to get inside your head and get what they can, your opinion at the moment. There are no digital bread crumbs that reflect your opinion about the future unless you choose to leave them. So politicians hire research firms to go out and create big data where it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, research firms don’t fall under the National Do Not Call Registry, but most of them are ethical, but they are also paid for results. If you just hang up, then the research firm will l likely call back. Take a minute as they verbally run at you a mile-a-minute trying to get you to engage to just say, “Thank you for calling. This is “state your name” and I respectfully request that you remove me from your call list.” That should do it. Each person asked for, however, probably has to do this because its about people not about phone numbers. If you have a business line at home, tell them they are calling a business, and that might get that number removed.
And if the pollster comes to you door, as with all things private, you need neither answer nor talk to them.
Also considering suggesting, perhaps, if political pollsters started selling cookies, they might get better traction.
On a bigger note, this is just the beginning of intrusive efforts to create data where none exists. Because of the positive results garnered by big business with big data, they want more. They are hooked. And like addicts, they are going to do things that they won’t normally do to get a fix. Because with data, they can know things about the future that others can’t. You’ll find big data quants sound a lot like people who have seen the spiritual world while on mushrooms or LSD. And because they enjoyed the experience, they want to do it again. The Obama election used big data to deliver a revelatory win. Other campaigns want to take a hit off of that and feel good to.
So here is a scenario thread from the future to watch for: medical forms, loan and credit applications and job applications that start asking for irrelevant information. Perhaps legislation will pass, and court rulings will reinforce, the legality of requesting less-than-relevnat voluntary data (opt-in data) about someone in situations where such data wasn’t necessary gathered before, or where privacy protection laws denied the right to ask. We may well move from pollsters to many others in society trying to get a data edge on the other guy so they can turn on to their predictive analytics fix.
I could be wrong, but it is something to watch for – in the meantime, remember, you still have the right to talk to only people you want to talk to.
Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.