Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Polls Were Wrong...The Underbelly of Big Data

Presidential Polls...All Wrong...I Was Right
Two years ago I made a two bets.  The first was that Donald Trump would be the Republican Presidential nominee.  Winning the Presidency was the second.  Each was for $40.  

As the campaign progressed the margin narrowed and with missteps on the part of the Democratic candidate, possible Hatch Act transgressions by the FBI Director and rising enthusiasm of the disenfranchised right (and Sanders misguiding the youth) and Mr. Trump won, not carrying the popular vote but winning the electoral vote which is what really counts.

It was about 10:30 PM on NOV 8th that all the talking heads and pollsters must have simultaneously watched the red light go on and thought "everything we've analyzed and said is wrong."

One aspect of Big Data is the marketing and merchandising side.  No one reads much any more, including Donald Trump, but we're addicted to smart phones, tablets, 140 character Tweets and a perpetual stream of visual and sound bites (bytes).    It's regarded as truth by many despite the fact that the major news carriers are more about advertising dollars than journalistic responsibility.

My forecast was based on no data, simply a gut feel.  As Andy Warhol  said "In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes."  It appears that I've had my fifteen minutes although it's been in two or three minute segments.

Your Online Smart-Ass Social Media Legacy & Big Data
During the Republican debates Ted Cruz had to defend the allegation that his father was a conspirator of Lee Harvey Oswald based upon a fuzzy photograph taken in Cuba.  A photograph, almost sixty years old may have played a part in Mr. Cruz's failure to be the nominee.  Minimally it's now become a topic.   Some people, having seen it in the debate or the regurgitated media/internet blasts will not certainly regard it as truth.

With the progression of the Obama Presidency it appears that American's willingness to identify themselves  with slanderous, derogatory and offensive commentary seemed to escalate.  Often I'm amused when people talk about their Facebook pages and state that they can say whatever they want on 'their Facebook page.'  Now if Facebook was a public utility or a government entity, perhaps like the library system that might be the case but it's not.  Facebook is a corporation.  When you open an account there, or on Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, etc., you are agreeing to the corporations end-user license agreement (EULA) which almost always says that you have given them all rights to use your postings, data, contacts, profile information, etc.

So down the road when your child applies to college or for a job the first research that will be done will be to look up their current social media profile.  As big data progresses big data will be re-packaged and sold to other companies that mine this data to provide analytics on what you might buy, where you might live, your political inclinations and your suitability for whatever.

If you repeatedly posted that President Obama was born in Kenya or some more disparaging comment your kids or your children's children might lose out because you were a birther or you were a political contributor to the wrong party or you bought a lot of odd things online or from a particular retailer.  It's possible that you, too, might have to defend yourself as Ted Cruz did.  On the other hand you have the opportunity to leave a good online legacy.

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