Five Misconceptions about Personal Data: Why we need a people-centred approach to Big Data is a paper presented at EPIC 2013 in London.
We produce vast amounts of data in our daily lives. Email, text, search, check-in, photos, payments – all these activities create a trail of digital exhaust. This personal data has been triumphantly declared a “new asset class” by the WEF and compared to oil as the world’s newest economic resource. This has sparked the big data boom, a frantic race to gather our personal data.
However, this gold rush obscures the real value of personal data, and forgets a fundamental rule of innovation: start with the person. Why has this basic principle been largely absent from our obsession with big data?
This paper draws on global ethnographic research with data-driven individuals, experts, and start-ups to address five common misconceptions about personal data. It concludes with a set of simple principles for ethnography to help create new value from personal data and to deliver that value back to people themselves.