The Last Person You Would Ever Ask

In our times of data, loads of data, there is a tendency to research people by use of this wonderful and totally infallible medium called the internet. What we glean therefrom is used to formulate our opinions and expectations. I myself do it but only in a very cursory manner. Others dig deeper. We must have that intelligence even though its source is not all that reliable.

From time to time my geek credentials surface and in my view science fiction is often a very rough predictor of future trends. The personalised advertising based on retinal scans in Minority Report is not so far away. Our social media aims to provide targeted advertising and Netflix keeps making suggestions to me about films based upon my viewing history. Which means data is stored about the kind of film I watch. This seems benign enough at first glance. But as we are hearing in the News there is a darker underbelly to all this data usage.

Now call me old fashioned if you like, when I am researching something I like to get as close to the source material as I possibly can, that way the colouration is reduced as is the Chinese whisper affect. Thus, if I want to find out something I have few qualms in asking; if that be about a person, I ask them. Maybe I am shameless. But people go to inordinate lengths to check up on others. They may ask around, and canvas opinion before they interact with the person who that opinion is about. It is a nasty habit and can backfire. Although we may complain about what the big guys do, we do it ourselves. It is not fair that they use our data, but we are also users, sometimes we can’t wait to get out the bent spoon, the candle and the hypodermic. We must have our fix of “intelligence”.

But how do we know how reliable that intelligence is unless we check it with the very person all that intelligence is about. We don’t know, simple as.

Having cued this up:

Why is it that when we gather intelligence about people, the last person we would ever ask is the subject of that intelligence?

Are we actually any good at gathering intelligence?

Do we research well and in depth?

Or are we in fact just a bunch of nosey old gossips?