from the I-wonder-if-they-track-sales-of-tin-foil? dept.
The article is entitled "Intel reveals big data's dirty little secret" but I read it a little bit differently.
From the article: "Companies are spending billions on tools and engineering to analyse big data, though many are hampered by one little problem: they still don't know what to do with all the data they collect."
This means that, of all the egregious breaches of personal privacy that companies regularly perform (the Target-knows-you're-pregnant-when-your-parents-don't story comes to mind), they have still only scratched the surface of making sense of your information, and using it effectively. Which means that, as Big Data gets people who actually know what they're doing, the more frightening the possibilities become, which is probably only a matter of time.
How would you feel about getting a bunch of targeted spam from divorce lawyers because your wife/husband's personal details were in the big Ashley Madison data leak, before you even heard about it? What if you were the guy who got drunk and put a profile up one time after a big fight but never followed up on it? This is why I don't have a Facebook account.
Computing is notorious for not having a worthwhile professional association. Some practitioners join the IEEE, the IET or the ACM. However, membership typically costs hundreds of dollars per year and offers little practical help to computer professionals working in small companies. If you're working for government or a large corporation or you're a super programmer in a well funded start-up then you probably have a union or you don't need a union. However, if you're the sole techie in a small business, appreciation for your dedication is just the start. What happens when you're asked to do something unethical or illegal? Where do you turn when a job goes sour? How do you avoid the problem? How can you avoid really toxic employers?
Rather than paying hundreds of dollars per year for talks and conferences, you require local experts who have first-hand experience of local employers and local employment problems. How can this be achieved reliably and cost-effectively? This is where our expertise should shine. Firstly, union entry should be at least as stringent as the conceirge union. Secondly, there should be a web-of-trust within each metropolitan region (and ideally between regions). In the best case, the network distance between all members should be four or less. Thirdly, an obligatory website should incur less hits than SoylentNews and therefore an upper bound for costs can be established for a volunteer effort. Essentially, it should be possible to run a union from donations of US$3000 per year or significantly less. Indeed, the major cost to members would be food and drink expenses when informally meeting other members.
So who wants to join a computer professional union with sensible fees and obligations?