Talking data mining on ABC Gippsland

Every now and then I end up doing an explainer that starts at the very beginning — like this radio spot about data mining for ABC Gippsland this morning.

Breakfast presenter Gerard Callinan has posted the audio under the title Mapping key strokes. Who’s watching?

For many of us, the idea of going a day without using the internet either at work or at home is almost unimaginable. Have you ever thought what happens to the information that you leave behind when visiting your favourite websites? Every page you visit, every survey you take, every ad you click on builds up a profile which is used by marketing companies and increasingly, political parties to build up a picture about what sort of things you are interested in and how you might be swayed to buy items or even vote in an election.

Here’s a slightly different version of the audio here, with the volume re-normalised — which just means it’s now supposedly at the optimal volume.

I think Mr Callinan got slightly paranoid after he’d read a certain op-ed I wrote earlier this year.

I’m not so sure how well I explained things. This was a live-to-air piece at 0720 AEDT after I’d had just three and a half hours of sleep and a few hours dealing with, um, a very aggressive intestinal problem. So I wasn’t as focused as I’d like to have been.

If I had my time again, I’d have made sure to explain how the advertising embedded in web pages, or the Facebook “Like” buttons, allow those organisations to track you across multiple sites. And I’d have made sure to have a link I could give out for some concise “How to protect your privacy online” guides.

The audio is of course ©2012 Australian Broadcasting Corporation, but as usual I’m posting it here as an archive.