CBC speaker to address data growth, use

People are creating data at an unprecedented rate because of technology and social media, and what is being done with that data can benefit or concern those who post it, says the next Red Deer College perspectives speaker.

People are creating data at an unprecedented rate because of technology and social media, and what is being done with that data can benefit or concern those who post it, says the next Red Deer College perspectives speaker.

Nora Young, the host of CBC radio’s Spark, will be in Red Deer on March 11 to talk about new technology, how people can protect themselves and how this newly created data be used to benefit people and communities.

“I’m talking about the amount of data you and I and everyone is starting to generate about their daily lives,” said Young.

“First of all, looking at why we’re doing this because it is kind of strange, but more broadly what that information can be used for. So part of it is looking at the useful stuff we can do with that, but also some of the potentially scary implications, especially around privacy.”

This includes people who post photos of brandname items, tweet about products, post reviews on websites like Yelp.com or status updates. Young said on its own that information could be considered fairly trivial, but when it is aggregated it shows trends and helps advertisers.

“I think that’s the interesting thing (but) we don’t tend to think about it that way (as data),” said Young.

“When you actually look at all of these little pieces of the puzzle coming together, you can think about it as data.

“Businesses are starting to think about it as data. In the fall, Twitter and Facebook started making the kinds of information people post about television shows available to TV networks. It’s essentially research data for them.”

But people don’t think about it this way. Instead, users share the information on these social media sites with people they think may be interested in it.

Young will do two talks at RDC: one in the evening aimed at the general public and one in the afternoon talking with students.

“In the afternoon it’s going to be a little more informal and is a little bit more structured around privacy and how privacy is changing,” said Young. The evening talk will touch on privacy concerns as well.

“What’s really happening is we’re seeing a sea of change in terms of not only the amount of information out there about us, but also the kinds of things it can be used for. Both for good and for ill,” said Young.

“What I would like people to think about is their data and their information. To think about the fact their data has value to them and other people and to think about the fact they can be activists about what their data is used for.

“As we go forward, we’re going to see the use of data as a political issue. What I really want to do is raise people’s level of awareness about that and to be aware of how quickly our lives are changing and how quickly data is becoming a force for social benefit, and a force that could potentially compromise your privacy.”

Young will take the stage at the RDC Mainstage, 100 College Blvd., starting at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11. Tickets cost $42 and are available through the Black Knight Inn ticket centre, by calling 403-755-6626 or 1-800-661-8793, or online at www.bkticketcentre.ca.


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