Despite my paralyzing arachnophobia, I believe that we are consistently moving toward a future of becoming spiders within datawebs of our very own creation. I use this metaphor as often we are unaware of our own web we leave behind, data dropping becoming second nature in a world that relies heavily on human insight to power consumerism and government policy. “A “digital trail” is a trace you leave behind you” describes Dr. Elisa Orelgia with this unprecedented future leaving insight into what the data trails look like now and what they may look like in the future (2016).
If we break down how our data is collected daily, both on purpose and not, we can observe how much of an impact data has on our lives right now. Pod Academy’s episode on “Digital Breadcrumbs” encompasses this idea as they tell the story of Amanda, a modern woman who gives away bits of information from the moment she wakes up and checks the weather to buying her coffee with contactless payment (2016). All of this data amounts to more than “44 zetabytes” every day as of 2020 and is growing every day (Desjardins 2019). Such an influx in information is fueling consumer culture but also services that may not come to mind immediately like healthcare and travel. There are arguments for the benefits and dangers of such extensive webs but it can be concluded that there certainly has “never in human history been such an information explosion” with that ‘explosion’ only growing by the day (Saha 2020).
The future also includes a growing movement toward combining the nostalgia of past establishments with data acquirance of the modern world. SFU’s Publishing Department wished to explore this unique juxtaposition in the example of Amazon’s physical bookstore where he attempted to “purchase a book without leaving any data,” a task proving more difficult than he had thought with all sorts of sign ins required (2016). This is a growing phenomena with artificial intelligence technologies using neural networks through (LLM) large language models to analyze databases and provide ‘advice’ based on analytics. Such regularly inputted data is a two way street with location data improving safety while simultaneously compromising user locations on a range of applications. This said, strategies are being put in place to mitigate such an influx in misuse of data with tech policy growing as fast as the amounts of data we provide.
From clear use of data within AI to the terms and conditions we often refuse to read, data is being taken and given at the fastest rate ever seen and it truly has become the propulsion of our world. It seems, for better or worse, we have become the spiders in a dataweb, but it is up to us to decide whether we are the one weaving them.
Desjardins, J. (2019, April 17). How much data is generated each day? World Economic Forum. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/how-much-data-is-generated-each-day-cf4bddf29f/
Pod Academy. (2016, May 3). Digital Breadcrumbs: The data trail we leave behind us. Pod Academy. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from http://podacademy.org/podcasts/digital-breadcrumbs-our-data-trail/
Saha, D. (2021, July 16). Google cloud brandvoice: How the world became data-driven, and what’s next. Forbes. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/googlecloud/2020/05/20/how-the-world-became-data-driven-and-whats-next/?sh=386bdb8457fc
SFU Publishing. (2016, March 7). Trying not to drop breadcrumbs in Amazon’s store. Publishing | Graduate and Undergraduate Studies – Simon Fraser University. Retrieved March 28, 2023, from https://www.sfu.ca/publishing/news/editorials/trying-not-to-drop-breadcrumbs-in-amazon-s-store.html