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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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How Much Of Your Data Does Big Data Have?

March 8, 2013, 12:53 PM

What's the Latest Development?

As privacy advocates continue to push Congress to regulate data broker activity, writer Lois Beckett investigates in detail the types of personal data they gather, where they get that data from, and what they do with it. For example, while basic information such as age and gender is volunteered by individuals, a range of institutions from retail outlets to state motor vehicle departments sell additional data to brokers without the person's knowledge or consent. Most of this information is used for advertising, but some data is beginning to be evaluated for other purposes that may compromise individual privacy.

What's the Big Idea?

Most people know that their data is being collected at an ever-increasing rate, but what concerns advocates is how little control individuals have over its use. Data brokers have pushed back against attempts to increase transparency, and despite proposed legislative measures such as President Obama's Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, Beckett says marketing-related data profiles in particular are unlikely to become available for inspection. Even if a profile is wrong, "the worst thing that could happen is that you get an advertising offer that isn't relevant to you," says Rachel Thomas of the Direct Marketing Association.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at ProPublica


How Much Of Your Data Does ...

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