Thursday, May 10, 2007

Data Mining!...At the New York Times

Filed under not so humorous ironies is this story broken by the Village Voice, of all sources;

Having Won a Pulitzer for Exposing Data Mining, Times Now Eager to Do Its Own Data Mining

"Barely a year after their reporters won a Pulitzer prize for exposing data mining of ordinary citizens by a government spy agency, New York Times officials had some exciting news for stockholders last week: The Times company plans to do its own data mining of ordinary citizens, in the name of online profits.

"The news didn't make everyone all googly-eyed. In fact, some people at the paper's annual stockholders meeting in the New Amsterdam Theatre exchanged confused looks when Janet Robinson, the company's president and CEO, uttered the phrase "data mining." Wasn't that the nefarious, 21st-century sort of snooping that the National Security Agency was doing without warrants on American citizens? Wasn't that the whole subject of the prizewinning work in December 2005 by Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen?

"And hadn't the company's chairman and publisher, Pinch Sulzberger, already trotted out Pulitzers earlier in the program?

"Yes, yes, and yes. But Robinson was talking about money this time. Data mining, she told the crowd, would be used "to determine hidden patterns of uses to our website." ...

"Do readers really want data-mining behavior from their newspapers—not just the Times but every other big media outlet? Do they want newspaper databases to store reading histories, minute by minute, until one day the government shows up to examine ordinary citizens' shopping and viewing and chatting habits in detail? If you think it can't happen, ask the librarians who've been told to hand over readers' checkout records under the Patriot Act...

"...Ancient Times man Arthur Gelb made this hardly surprising observation to the Observer the other day: "Some day we'll all be reading our papers electronically." But the problem with reading papers electronically is that they can also read you."

Why's data mining so bad again?

And if it is so bad, then why's it OK for the NY Times to engage in it for profit?


◈lunaluna◈ said...

Your blog is very interesting!
Bye bye

JMK said...

Thanks for stopping by and for commenting canary!

Much appreciated.

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