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The numerati
Stephen Baker
Adult Nonfiction QA401 .B35 2008

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Starred Review. In this captivating exploration of digital nosiness, business reporter Baker spotlights a new breed of entrepreneurial mathematicians (the numerati) engaged in harnessing the avalanche of private data individuals provide when they use a credit card, donate to a cause, surf the Internet--or even make a phone call. According to the author, these crumbs of personal information--buying habits or preferences--are being culled by the numerati to radically transform, and customize, everyday experiences; supermarket smart carts will soon greet shoppers by name, guide them to their favorite foods, tempting them with discounts only on items they like; candidates will be able to tailor their messages to specific voters; sensors in homes or even implanted in bodies themselves will report early warnings of medical problems (have you noticed Grandpa has been walking slower?), predict an increased risk of disease in the future or adjust a drug for a single individual. An intriguing but disquieting look at a not too distant future when our thoughts will remain private, but computers will disclose our tastes, opinions, habits and quirks to curious parties, not all of whom have our best interests at heart. (Sept. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Verdict: Baker effectively intertwines stories, insights from interviews, and research into an easy-to-read and enjoyable book. However, it would have benefited from a chapter or two on stickier technology-related issues such as data privacy, stereotyping, and the misuse of data for corporate profit. Still, this title is highly recommended for general readers with an appreciation for contemporary cultural phenomenon. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/08.] Background The Numerati, as Business Week writer and technology issues blogger Baker identifies mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientists, aggressively mine numerical data to identify patterns and trends that define our collective experience. His new book is a social commentary on how Numerati interpret the data we create as shoppers, voters, lovers, patients, and consumers. Baker introduces us to how data specialists decipher the collective digital trail upon which we find ourselves so swiftly borne. His text illustrates how fundamental and powerful data mining is to government and business to identify digital patterns, trends, profiles, consumer behavior, and attitudes.--Ian D. Gordon, Brock Univ. Lib., St. Catharines, Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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