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Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking) (Anglais) Relié – 9 septembre 2014

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Description du produit



Wooderson’s Law

Up where the world is steep, like in the Andes, people use funicular railroads to get where they need to go—­a pair of cable cars connected by a pulley far up the hill. The weight of the one car going down pulls the other up; the two vessels travel in counterbalance. I’ve learned that that’s what being a parent is like. If the years bring me low, they raise my daughter, and, please, so be it. I surrender gladly to the passage, of course, especially as each new moment gone by is another I’ve lived with her, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss the days when my hair was actually all brown and my skin free of weird spots. My girl is two and I can tell you that nothing makes the arc of time more clear than the creases in the back of your hand as it teaches plump little fingers to count: one, two, tee.

But some guy having a baby and getting wrinkles is not news. You can start with whatever the Oil of Olay marketing department is running up the pole this week—­as I’m writing it’s the idea of “color correcting” your face with a creamy beige paste that is either mud from the foothills of Alsace or the very essence of bullshit—­and work your way back to myths of Hera’s jealous rage. People have been obsessed with getting older, and with getting uglier because of it, for as long as there’ve been people and obsession and ugliness. “Death and taxes” are our two eternals, right? And depending on the next government shutdown, the latter is looking less and less reliable. So there you go.

When I was a teenager—­and it shocks me to realize I was closer then to my daughter’s age than to my current thirty-­eight—­I was really into punk rock, especially pop-­punk. The bands were basically snottier and less proficient versions of Green Day. When I go back and listen to them now, the whole phenomenon seems supernatural to me: grown men brought together in trios and quartets by some unseen force to whine about girlfriends and what other people are eating. But at the time I thought these bands were the shit. And because they were too cool to have posters, I had to settle for arranging their album covers and flyers on my bedroom wall. My parents have long since moved—­twice, in fact. I’m pretty sure my old bedroom is now someone else’s attic, and I have no idea where any of the paraphernalia I collected is. Or really what most of it even looked like. I can just remember it and smile, and wince.

Today an eighteen-­year-­old tacks a picture on his wall, and that wall will never come down. Not only will his thirty-­eight-­year-­old self be able to go back, pick through the detritus, and ask, “What was I thinking?,” so can the rest of us, and so can researchers. Moreover, they can do it for all people, not just one guy. And, more still, they can connect that eighteenth year to what came before and what’s still to come, because the wall, covered in totems, follows him from that bedroom in his parents’ house to his dorm room to his first apartment to his girlfriend’s place to his honeymoon, and, yes, to his daughter’s nursery. Where he will proceed to paper it over in a billion updates of her eating mush.

A new parent is perhaps most sensitive to the milestones of getting older. It’s almost all you talk about with other people, and you get actual metrics at the doctor’s every few months. But the milestones keep coming long after babycenter .com and the pediatrician quit with the reminders. It’s just that we stop keeping track. Computers, however, have nothing better to do; keeping track is their only job. They don’t lose the scrapbook, or travel, or get drunk, or grow senile, or even blink. They just sit there and remember. The myriad phases of our lives, once gone but to memory and the occasional shoebox, are becoming permanent, and as daunting as that may be to everyone with a drunk selfie on Instagram, the opportunity for understanding, if handled carefully, is self-­evident.

What I’ve just described, the wall and the long accumulation of a life, is what sociologists call longitudinal data—­data from following the same people, over time—­and I was speculating about the research of the future. We don’t have these capabilities quite yet because the Internet, as a pervasive human record, is still too young. As hard as it is to believe, even Facebook, touchstone and warhorse that it is, has only been big for about six years. It’s not even in middle school! Information this deep is still something we’re building toward, literally, one day at a time. In ten or twenty years, we’ll be able to answer questions like . . . well, for one, how much does it mess up a person to have every moment of her life, since infancy, posted for everyone else to see? But we’ll also know so much more about how friends grow apart or how new ideas percolate through the mainstream. I can see the long-­term potential in the rows and columns of my databases, and we can all see it in, for example, the promise of Facebook’s Timeline: for the passage of time, data creates a new kind of fullness, if not exactly a new science.

Even now, in certain situations, we can find an excellent proxy, a sort of flash-­forward to the possibilities. We can take groups of people at different points in their lives, compare them, and get a rough draft of life’s arc. This approach won’t work with music tastes, for example, because music itself also evolves through time, so the analysis has no control. But there are fixed universals that can support it, and, in the data I have, the nexus of beauty, sex, and age is one of them. Here the possibility already exists to mark milestones, as well as lay bare vanities and vulnerabilities that were perhaps till now just shades of truth. So doing, we will approach a topic that has consumed authors, painters, philosophers, and poets since those vocations existed, perhaps with less art (though there is an art to it), but with a new and glinting precision. As usual, the good stuff lies in the distance between thought and action, and I’ll show you how we find it.

I’ll start with the opinions of women—­all the trends below are true across my sexual data sets, but for specificity’s sake, I’ll use numbers from OkCupid. This table lists, for a woman, the age of men she finds most attractive. If I’ve arranged it unusually, you’ll see in a second why.

Reading from the top, we see that twenty-­ and twenty-­one-­year-­old women prefer twenty-­three-­year-­old guys; twenty-­two-­year-­old women like men who are twenty-­four, and so on down through the years to women at fifty, who we see rate forty-­six-­year-­olds the highest. This isn’t survey data, this is data built from tens of millions of preferences expressed in the act of finding a date, and even from just following along the first few entries, the gist of the table is clear: a woman wants a guy to be roughly as old as she is. Pick an age in black under forty, and the number in red is always very close. The broad trend comes through better when I let lateral space reflect the progression of the values in red:

That dotted diagonal is the “age parity” line, where the male and female years would be equal. It’s not a canonical math thing, just something I overlaid as a guide for your eye. Often there is an intrinsic geometry to a situation—­it was the first science for a reason—­and we’ll take advantage wherever possible. This particular line brings out two transitions, which coincide with big birthdays. The first pivot point is at thirty, where the trend of the red numbers—­the ages of the men—­crosses below the line, never to cross back. That’s the data’s way of saying that until thirty, a woman prefers slightly older guys; afterward, she likes them slightly younger. Then at forty, the progression breaks free of the diagonal, going practically straight down for nine years. That is to say, a woman’s tastes appear to hit a wall. Or a man’s looks fall off a cliff, however you want to think about it. If we want to pick the point where a man’s sexual appeal has reached its limit, it’s there: forty.

The two perspectives (of the woman doing the rating and of the man being rated) are two halves of a whole. As a woman gets older, her standards evolve, and from the man’s side, the rough 1:1 movement of the red numbers versus the black implies that as he matures, the expectations of his female peers mature as well—­practically year-­for-­year. He gets older, and their viewpoint accommodates him. The wrinkles, the nose hair, the renewed commitment to cargo shorts—­these are all somehow satisfactory, or at least offset by other virtues. Compare this to the free ­fall of scores going the other way, from men to women.

This graph—­and it’s practically not even a graph, just a table with a couple columns—­makes a statement as stark as its own negative space. A woman’s at her best when she’s in her very early twenties. Period. And really my plot doesn’t show that strongly enough. The four highest-rated female ages are twenty, twenty-­one, twenty-­two, and twenty-­three for every group of guys but one. You can see the general pattern below, where I’ve overlaid shading for the top two quartiles (that is, top half) of ratings. I’ve also added some female ages as numbers in black on the bottom horizontal to help you navigate:

Again, the geometry speaks: the male pattern runs much deeper than just a preference for twenty-­year-­olds. And after he hits thirty, the latter half of our age range (that is, women over thirty-­five) might as well not exist. Younger is better, and youngest is best of all, and if “over the hill” means the beginning of a person’s decline, a straight woman is over the hill as soon as she’s old enough to drink.

Of course, another way to put this focus on youth is that males’ expectations never grow up. A fifty-­year-­old man’s idea of what’s hot is roughly the same as a college kid’s, at least with age as the variable under consideration—­if anything, men in their twenties are more willing to date older women. That pocket of middling ratings in the upper right of the plot, that’s your “cougar” bait, basically. Hikers just out enjoying a nice day, then bam.

In a mathematical sense, a man’s age and his sexual aims are independent variables: the former changes while the latter never does. I call this Wooderson’s law, in honor of its most famous proponent, Matthew McConaughey’s character from Dazed and Confused.

Unlike Wooderson himself, what men claim they want is quite different from the private voting data we’ve just seen. The ratings above were submitted without any specific prompt beyond “Judge this person.” But when you ask men outright to select the ages of women they’re looking for, you get much different results. The gray space below is what men tell us they want when asked:

Since I don’t think that anyone is intentionally misleading us when they give OkCupid their preferences—­there’s little incentive to do that, since all you get then is a site that gives you what you know you don’t want—­I see this as a statement of what men imagine they’re supposed to desire, versus what they actually do. The gap between the two ideas just grows over the years, although the tension seems to resolve in a kind of pathetic compromise when it’s time to stop voting and act, as you’ll see.

The next plot (the final one of this type we’ll look at) identifies the age with the greatest density of contact attempts. These most-­messaged ages are described by the darkest gray squares drifting along the left-­hand edge of the larger swath. Those three dark verticals in the graph’s lower half show the jumps in a man’s self-­concept as he approaches middle age. You can almost see the gears turning. At forty-­four, he’s comfortable approaching a woman as young as thirty-­five. Then, one year later . . . he thinks better of it. While a nine-­year age difference is fine, ten years is apparently too much.

It’s this kind of calculated no-­man’s-­land—­the balance between what you want, what you say, and what you do—­that real romance has to occupy: no matter how people might vote in private or what they prefer in the abstract, there aren’t many fifty-­year-­old men successfully pursuing twenty-­year-­old women. For one thing, social conventions work against it. For another, dating requires reciprocity. What one person wants is only half of the equation.

Revue de presse

An NPR Best Book of 2014
A Globe & Mail Best Book of 2014
A Brain Pickings Best Science Book of 2014
A Bloomberg Best Book of 2014
One of Hudson Booksellers' 5 Best Business Books of 2014
Goodreads Semifinalist for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize

"Most data-hyping books are vapor and slogans. This one has the real stuff: actual data and actual analysis taking place on the page. That’s something to be praised, loudly and at length. Praiseworthy, too, is Rudder’s writing, which is consistently zingy and mercifully free of Silicon Valley business gabble."
Jordan Ellenberg, Washington Post

"As a researcher, Mr. Rudder clearly possesses the statistical acumen to answer the questions he has posed so well. As a writer, he keeps the book moving while fully exploring each topic, revealing his graphs and charts with both explanatory and narrative skill. Though he forgoes statistical particulars like p-values and confidence intervals, he gives an approachable, persuasive account of his data sources and results. He offers explanations of what the data can and cannot tell us, why it is sufficient or insufficient to answer some question we may have and, if the latter is the case, what sufficient data would look like. He shows you, in short, how to think about data."
—Wall Street Journal

"Rudder is the co-founder of the dating site OKCupid and the data scientist behind its now-legendary trend analyses, but he is also — as it becomes immediately clear from his elegant writing and wildly cross-disciplinary references — a lover of literature, philosophy, anthropology, and all the other humanities that make us human and that, importantly in this case, enhance and ennoble the hard data with dimensional insight into the richness of the human experience...an extraordinarily unusual and dimensional lens on what Carl Sagan memorably called ‘the aggregate of our joy and suffering.’"
—Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

"Fascinating, funny, and occasionally howl-inducing...[Rudder] is a quant with soul, and we’re lucky to have him."
"There's another side of Big Data you haven't seen—not the one that promised to use our digital world to our advantage to optimize, monetize, or systematize every last part our lives. It's the big data that rears its ugly head and tells us what we don't want to know. And that, as Christian Rudder demonstrates in his new book, Dataclysm, is perhaps an equally worthwhile pursuit. Before we heighten the human experience, we should understand it first."

"At a time when consumers are increasingly wary of online tracking, Rudder makes a powerful argument in Dataclysm that the ability to tell so much about us from the trails we leave is as potentially useful as it is pernicious, and as educational as it may be unsettling. By explaining some of the insights he has gleaned from OkCupid and other social networks, he demystifies data-mining and sheds light on what, for better or for worse, it is now capable of."
—Financial Times

"Dataclysm is a well-written and funny look at what the numbers reveal about human behavior in the age of social media. It’s both profound and a bit disturbing, because, sad to say, we’re generally not the kind of people we like to think — or say — we are."

"For all its data and its seemingly dating-specific focus, Dataclysm tells the story set forth by the book's subtitle, in an entertaining and accessible way. Informative, eye-opening, and (gasp) fun to read. Even if you’re not a giant stat head."

"[Rudder] doesn’t wring or clap his hands over the big-data phenomenon (see N.S.A., Google ads, that sneaky Fitbit) so much as plunge them into big data and attempt to pull strange creatures from the murky depths." 
The New Yorker

"A hopeful and exciting journey into the heart of data collection...[Rudder's] book delivers both insider access and a savvy critique of the very machinery he is employed by. Since he's been in the data mines and has risen above them, Rudder becomes a singular and trustworthy guide.
—The Globe and Mail

"Compulsively readable — including for those with no particular affinity for numbers in and of themselves — and surprisingly personal. Starting with aggregates, Rudder posits, we can zoom in on the details of how we live, love, fight, work, play, and age; from numbers, we can derive narrative. There are few characters in the book, and few anecdotes — but the human story resounds throughout."

"Rudder’s lively, clear prose…makes heady concepts understandable and transforms the book’s many charts into revealing truths…Rudder teaches us a bit about how wonderfully peculiar humans are, and how we go about hiding it."

"Dataclysm is all about what we can learn about human minds and hearts by analyzing the massive ongoing experiment that is the internet."

"The book reads as if it's written (well) by a curious child whose parents beg him or her to stop asking "what-if" questions. Rudder examines the data of the website he helped create with unwavering curiosity. Every turn presents new questions to be answered, and he happily heads down the rabbit hole to resolve them."
—U.S. News

"A wonderful march through infographics created using data derived from the web…a fun, visual book—and a necessary one at that."
The Independent (UK), 2014's Best Books on the Internet and Technology

"This is the best book that I've read on data in years, perhaps ever. If you want to understand how data is affecting the present and what it portends for the future, buy it now."
—Huffington Post

"Rudder draws from big data sets – Google searches, Twitter updates, illicitly obtained Facebook data passed shiftily between researchers like bags of weed – to draw out subtle patterns in politics, sexuality, identity and behaviour that are only revealed with distance and aggregation…Dataclysm will entertain those who want to know how machines see us. It also serves as a call to action, showing us how server farms running everything from home shopping to homeland security turn us into easily digested data products. Rudder's message is clear: in this particular sausage factory, we are the pigs.” 
New Scientist

"Dataclysm offers both the satisfaction of confirming stereotypes and the fun of defying them…Such candor is disarming, as is Mr. Rudder’s puckish sense of humor." 
–Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Studying human behavior is a little like exploring a jungle: it's messy, hard, and easy to lose your way. But Christian Rudder is a consummate guide, revealing essential truths about who we are. Big Data has never been so fun."
—Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational
"Dataclysm is a book full of juicy secrets—secrets about who we love, what we crave, why we like, and how we change each other’s minds and lives, often without even knowing it. Christian Rudder makes this mathematical narrative of our culture fun to read and even more fun to discuss: You will find yourself sharing these intriguing data-driven revelations with everyone you know."
—Jane McGonigal, author of Reality Is Broken
"In the first few pages of Dataclysm, Christian Rudder uses massive amounts of actual behavioral data to prove what I always believed in my heart: Belle and Sebastian is the whitest band ever. It only gets better from there."
—Aziz Ansari

"It’s unheard of for a book about Big Data to read like a guilty pleasure, but Dataclysm does. It’s a fascinating, almost voyeuristic look at who we really are and what we really want."
—Steven Strogatz, Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, author of The Joy of x

"Smart, revealing, and sometimes sobering, Dataclysm affirms what we probably suspected in our darker moments: When it comes to romance, what we say we want isn't what will actually make us happy. Christian Rudder has tapped the tremendous wealth of data that the Internet offers to tease out thoughts on topics like beauty and race that most of us wouldn’t cop to publicly. It's a riveting read, and Rudder is an affable and humane guide."
—Adelle Waldman, author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

"Christian Rudder has written a funny and profound book about important issues. Race, love, sex—you name it. Are we the sum of the data we produce? Read this book immediately and see if you can answer the question."
—Errol Morris

"Big Data can be like a 3D movie without 3D glasses—you know there's a lot going on but you're mainly just disoriented. We should feel fortunate to have an interpreter as skilled (and funny) as Christian Rudder. Dataclysm is filled with insights that boil down Big Data into byte-sized revelations."
—Michael Norton, Harvard Business School, coauthor of Happy Money

"With a zest for both the profound and the wacky, Rudder demonstrates how the information we provide individually tells a vast deal about who we are collectively. A visually engaging read and a fascinating topic make this a great choice not just for followers of Nate Silver and fans of infographics, but for just about anyone who, by participating in online activity, has contributed to the data set."
—Library Journal

"Demographers, entrepreneurs, students of history and sociology, and ordinary citizens alike will find plenty of provocations and, yes, much data in Rudder's well-argued, revealing pages."
—Kirkus Reviews

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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Okcupid est un site de rencontres assez populaire dans les grandes villes américaines et un peu à l’international. L’auteur, qui est l’un des fondateurs du site, y a recueilli des statistiques fascinantes et les a publiées sur son blog. Il en reprend quelques-unes dans ce livre, mais malheureusement très peu. La principale concerne l’âge que les utilisateurs trouvent le plus séduisant : les femmes préfèrent les hommes de leur âge, les hommes préfèrent les femmes de 22 ans. On a aussi l’analyse lexicologique des mots qui caractérisent les profils des gens par race, sexe et orientation sexuelle, et l’estimation du nombre d’hommes homosexuels dans une population à partir des recherches de pornographie sur Google : 5% dans toutes les cultures. Tout ça est amusant mais d’intérêt limité. A part ça il y a il y a des considérations sur le racisme latent des utilisateurs (à partir des taux de réponse par race déclarée sur les profils), ou sur l’utilisation de nos données par les grandes sociétés et les gouvernements, mais ça reste très général. On n’y trouvera pas non plus de conseils ou d’idées pour améliorer son taux de succès sur internet. Pas très intéressant donc, à moins de ne rien connaître au fonctionnement d’internet et aux statistiques. Il vaut mieux lire le blog.
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Oubliez les enquêtes où on demande à 100 (ou 1000, peu importe) personnes ce qu'elles pensent d'un sujet ? Forget it ! Le travail de Rudder se base sur des données sur les interactions et actions entre des 100 de milliers de personnes. Pas ce qu'elles disent, mais ce qu'elles font: répondre à des messages (ou pas), se noter mutuellement en vue d'une rencontre possible, etc. C'est sur les sites de rencontre avant tout - et répond à des questions que vous n'auriez même pas osées poser: sur les relations interraciales, le limite des photographies sur les sites de rencontres, etc. C'est amusant, intelligent et impressionnant de données.
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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Teases out insights into how people honestly think about themselves and others 5 novembre 2014
Par Walt Bristow - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Big data has a bad name. It is used to spy on us and to convince us to buy things we do not need (and, we discover after parting with our money, that we often do not want). Nevertheless, big data - and the insight it gives into who we are - fascinates us.

Christian Rudder is in a unique position to tell us a lot about ourselves. As a co-founder of OkCupid, he has access to the hearts and minds (and politics and food and drink) of millions of us. In Dataclysm, he slices, dices, and adds a bit of direction (and wit) to data that, he believes, reveals the inner soul of who we are.

Here is a smattering of what you'll uncover in Dataclysm.

Women (who men believe are `over-the-hill' after age 21) think that only one in six men is `above average' in attractiveness. Until age 30, women prefer slightly older guys. After 30, they prefer them slightly younger. At 40, well let's say that men lose their appeal after they turn 40. Conclusion? Women want men to age with them (at least until age 40). Men always want youth.

People who are considered attractive by everyone are less appealing that those who are seen as unattractive by some. That is, having some flaw or imperfection actually makes you more attractive and appealing to others.

Twitter may actually improve a user's writing because it forces you to wring meaning from fewer letters.

The messages on OkCupid that get the most responses are short (40-60 characters). To get to that brief message, most people edit, edit and edit some more. Then that same message is used over and over and over again. Rudder's conclusion? Boilerplate is 75% as effective as something original.

Remember the six degrees of separation? Rudder reports that analysis of Facebook accounts shows that 99.6% of people on Facebook are, in fact, within six degrees of anyone on the planet. The more you share with mutual friends, the stronger the relationship. Couples who have a strong relationship tend to be the connecting point among very different groups of people - your partner is one of the few people you can introduce into the far corners of your life.

People tend to overemphasize the big, splashy things: faith, politics, and certainly looks, but in determining compatibility with another, those beliefs do not matter nearly as much as everyone thinks. Sometimes they do not matter at all. Often it is caring about a topic that is more important than how you view the topic itself.

Race has less effect on how well you will get along with someone else than religion, politics or education. However, racism is still pervasive in whom you might prefer to interact with.
On Facebook, every percentile of attractiveness gives a man two new friends. It gives a woman three. Guess how that plays into employment interviews?

White people tend to differentiate themselves by their hair and eyes. Asians by their country of origin. Latinos by their music.

You get the idea - many strange but interesting relationships begin to pop out when you have mounds of data about many people who give up that data without the expectation that it is going to be used to figure out who we really are when no one is looking over our shoulder.

Rudder provides a stimulating glimpse into what can be teased out of piles of data. I have to assume he knows how to analyze the data and how to interpret what the data says to him. What he sees is sometimes distressing (as in his conclusions about racism). However, it is always fascinating.

As dating sites, Google, social media sites, (the NSA?) and others continue to vacuum up data on our personal lives, will the result be good? Or will it be used to hurt? Who will decide? Does it require laws? Or will people eventually turn away from companies that misuse the information we give them about ourselves?

A good read. Look for more tidbits as social scientists dig deeper and deeper into big data.

This and other reviews available at WalterBristow.com

Review based on a copy courtesy of the publisher.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Lives up to the hype 8 avril 2016
Par Andrew - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Many "big data" and "data science" books these days talk abstractly about data. Rudder, in his Dataclysm, explains by example. Throughout the book he uses specific well-described data sets along with intuitively arranged charts to show just how a researcher can take a massive collection of data and distill it into an easy to state generalization about humankind.

The book is colored in black and red, and Rudder makes good use of the additional color in many of his charts. The print quality was excellent, and the book was even a pleasure just to hold. Not only will I seek out more blog posts, articles, and books by Christian Rudder because of the quality of the exposition, but I will seek out books published by Broadway Books specifically for their attention to detail in publishing this book.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Truisms are true no matter the hue 6 mai 2015
Par M. T. Crenshaw - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Dataclysm is a fun popular approach to scientific data analysis and interpretation. This a very enjoyable fascinating reading. There are many good things about this book: it deals with data in a passionate and entertaining way, and makes something a priori not that interesting to people who do not love data, really interesting! The book does so in a very clear and approachable language. Besides, Rudder is an insider who knows what he is talking about first hand so everything he says is worth listening to. After all he is not one of those lorikeets who repeat data analysis and statistics without understanding anything about them or even questioning the results. Rudder comes trough as a lovely chap, inquisitive mind, and passionate about the work he does. Most importantly, he comes through also as an unpretentious guy who wants to connect with the reader.

Perhaps the main take from the book to me is that mathematicians and data analysts are coming down to something that Social Sciences and Humanities wanted them to come to decades ago, and, most importantly, they now have the tools to deal with humongous amounts of real-life real-people's life to do that.

The most interesting parts of the book, at least to me, are chapters 12 (Know your Place) and chapter 14 (Bread crumbs). The first because it shows, even at an embryonary level, that geographical maps are sometimes just lines drawn on a piece a paper, while other factors, beyond the place you live, have way more importance. The Dolly project seems to me the most fascinating thing in the world and I would have loved more details about it. The later chapter is, by far, the most interesting (to me) because Rudder is an insider and anything and everything he has to say about the collection, storage and use of our data or meta-data is relevant and important and needs to be taken into consideration. I would have loved that chapter way more developed and detailed. Rudder is just very clear about how things are and should be, or perhaps should not be, and I wanted more. Also, I wanted to know his opinion on the use of IP blinders, and the use of browsers like Mozilla or Duckduckgo, which are not that keen on recording our data or sharing it with anybody.

I am a critical reader so I tend to question or think about what any non-fiction writer says, as much as my limited knowledge allows me. I was pleased to find that some questions or objections that I found myself making to Rudder's statements while reading, were later presented and discussed. In a way, Rudder has a Humanities sort of soul, which shines now and then when dealing with his mathematician core. I love the combo.

I also loved al the details about data collection and use, and the games that Rudder and his pals at OkCupid played, and especially Rudder's trends analysis examples. That is Rudder's forte and it does show! I loved some of his reflections on Google's auto-complete trends analysis, the healthiness of a couple by looking a the chart on dots interconnection on Facebook, or the discussion on racial attitudes in the USA.

The charts are beautifully presented and coloured, so many different styles and ways of organising the data.

Dataclysm could have been a better book on so many fronts that it is a pity that is not. The main downside of the book is the lack of proper editing. A good editor can make wonders for any book, no matter how brainy you are. A good editor works not only on making the text more readable regarding spelling, sentence and paragraph structure, but also book structure, approach and level of focus, so the book is not only polished, but also makes sense and conveys the author's message better. Unfortunately, the book is not polished and the structure does not make Rudder any favour. Mind you, the use of verbal contractions is not advisable in a published book, unless you are translating or reproducing direct speech, while it is preferred in blogging. The use of long paragraphs with bad punctuation turns a stroll by the beach into a walk through thorny bushes. You get the image.

It is a pity that the author decided or was advised to present us with the current book's structure. I do not have a problem with general non-related chapters presented as such and bunched together in three parts, because they make sense to me. However, I do have a problem with the general structure of the book, and the endnotes/notes system.

The chapter on sources and data is relegated to the end of the book, before the index. I consider this a big fall because Rudder is asking the reader to believe what he says with some sort of theological trust, while he could have easily earned the reader's trust and respect by just using the "coda" (Italian for tail or epilogue) at the very beginning. Why? Because this chapter explains exactly how he has approached data, and his methodology, what he has done and how he has done it. This is especially relevant in this book, because a good deal of its chapters are re-takes on his own blog posts, so it would have benefited him stating clearly, upfront, that those re-takes used new fresh data and the testing was done again from scratch and were not a copy-and-paste sort of thing. We have to wait to the end of the book to learn that.

I am a bit anal about footnotes/endnotes, but I understand that if you want to write a scientific book on data for the general public you cannot do that, just for practical reasons. So, I consider sensible Rudder's restrain at using endnotes. Then, we get to the bottom end of the book, and we find this statement:

"We no longer live in a world where a reader depends on endnotes for “more information”or to seek proof of facts or claims. For example, I imagine any reader interested in Sullivan Ballou will have Googled him long before"

Yes, it is true, even I do that, but it worries me that any person coming from a decent University would say that or do that in a book. We are relying more and more on what the Wikipedia is saying or the Internet (who is the Internet here?) is saying, and not on what scholarly periodicals, books or encyclopaedias, peer-reviewed, properly edited and discussed, say about anything. I would strive to provide "serious" reference material, and add as many footnotes or endnotes or references as necessary.

Them, Rudder goes bananas-ish and provides us with a "chapter" called "notes", right after the space devoted to the endnotes. Rudder wants to provide us with extra information on certain points mentioned in the book. Well, if that the case, add more footnotes/ endnotes. That is what they are used for! This is even more painful in the Kindle edition. The link from the note to the text works backwards, and takes you to the part of the text it relates to, but does not allow you to do so forward, because there is not an endnote to do so properly.

If this were my book, I would work on fixing this and introducing that information as endnotes in the text, properly. And also to link properly the references forward in the Kindle Edition.

There it comes the Index, a proper scholar index, one of those beautifully made indexes that are so awesome to have in a book. There for us... with a hard copy. Otherwise, no, because it is not properly linked in the Kindle edition, and therefore, useless. This is something easily fixable if you want to charge the client full price for any book.

The book, per se, ends when my Kindle showed 65% read. The rest is the footnotes, notes, index and info about the author and the publisher. I felt ripped off again.

Why anybody with the brilliance of Rudder could self-behead himself is something that escapes me. And here it comes the main culprit for the failure of the book, or that is my impression, of course - Rudder's struggle to please both the general public and the academia. Many of his statements about methodology strive to convey a serious scientific way of work that matters and gets the approval of his academic peers, because he is really a serious scientist. That struggle also explains why the "coda" and the "notes" were relegated to the end of the book but were not totally disregarded.

A scientist can present his findings and knowledge to the general public being rigorous and respected by their academic peers without trying to please both. If you have clear who is the target or your book and put your focus on it, then things become easier as you find also easier what to sacrifice and what not.

There are a few flaws in the a-priori reasoning used. Perhaps things were not explained sufficiently, so I give Rudder the benefit of the doubt. Here some examples:
+ Although most people are not on online networks and sites, most of them are or will be, so the analysis of the data and its result have some sort of universality. And well, Facebook and Google are the kings and everybody is there, not to say the phone and Internet companies, which are also collecting your data. Yes, it is true. However, my mini-me-on-the-shoulder sort of question pops up. Were do we put the gazillion Chinese on Planet Earth who do not use FB or Google or Western sites? What about Middle East Cultures, like, say Yemen, or Saudi Arabia or Qatar or Afghanistan? Do include them by default in the findings and analysis in the book and decide that we are all one? You get the picture.

+ Sometimes I had the impression that Rudder could not distinguish, although I am sure he does, that the USA is not the world, and that the Western World is not the whole world. For example, are his analysis (which I really loved) about race in the USA pertinent, say, in Bolivia? in South Africa? in Botswana? Would the approach to the data on race could be collected the same? Rudder probably never intended to imply that, for sure, but the book comes across as if the contrary was true at times. I think part of the epilogue should have been devoted to stating what he is doing and what sort of limits his analysis has. This is, unless he is using data from around the world from China to Bhutan, Uganda to Dafour. Then, I will vanish and shut up. Of course there are some things that are universal because we are all humans, and we all have a human body, and want to relate: "no man is an island" However "the other" is there, in those places where life is most deeply affected by religion, your gender, or the part of the world you live in.

+ The author recognises that the important thing is not just what the data says about what humans do, but why they do it. Bingo! That got me excited. It was a quickie-sort-of excitement because beyond some truisms, nothing of substance is said as a reply.

+ What a person searches for often gives you the person himself. Really? Well, sometimes, not always. Yes, if there is a massive search on a given thing at the same time, like the epidemic thingie by Google. But say, that there is not such massive search, and I look up Google for skin rash photos. I might be giving my me having a skin rash, or me studying dermatology, or making an assessment for High School, or my baby has a rash and I want to find what exactly is, or I have a sort of sickly morbid fascination with photos of skin diseases.So, how analysts discriminate the intention behind my typing skin diseases from yours on the same sought up at the same time when there is non an epidemic?

Now, if I made the statements below, just a few of those that you will find in the book, would you be surprised or think that a humongous amount of data has to be analysed, charted and studied for your to learn this?
* Men usually prefer younger women, no matter their age.
* At the end of the day, looks aren't that important when you meet a person in real life, more the things you have in common.
* People say they are something but then they are another.
* People tend to hide or not to say things that are not politically correct regarding race, gender and what is not.
* Men-women connect better when they do not sea each other's photo.
* People vote for somebody and lie about at the exit of the polls booth, especially if the candidate is not popular.
* Asian Americans talk more about Korean pop or Korean films than white people, while the music that South American mention is salsa or bachata not as much as country music.
* With the Internet we all have a voice now and a larger audience.
* The better interconnected in the family a couple is, the more chances has of their relationship to succeed.

Yes, that is right. A series of truisms, common sense evaluations presented through flashy mathematically crafted charts, and complex data analysis. Isn't this a bit of a waste of the author's talent and time?

"The era of data is here; we are now recorded"
Is that so new? Just visit any old historical archive or the Tax office records of the pre-Internet era.I guess Sumerian Bookkeepers felt the same, at the top o the world, when dealing with so much data. We have been recording our data and our data has been used for ages, literally, just a bit differently. Yes, Rudder possibly did not intend to imply this either, but the flash is sometimes too bright to let us see properly.

I would have not written such a long review if there wasn't something intrinsically good and thought-provoking in Rudder's book, so take it as it is. I still recommend the reading and I think it is really entertaining and interesting.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 some good, some bad 15 avril 2015
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I just finished a class project on this book, and wrote this review for the project in my information studies class.

In the book Dataclasysm, by Christian Rudder the co-founder of Okcupid, Rudder takes a compelling look at data research in big Internet companies. A few months before Rudder released his book in October 2014, Rudder posted a blog explaining three tests their company has conducted on its sites users. Rudder got some flack for saying this in his blog “guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.”

The media spun Rudder’s comments in his blog in quit a few different ways, some good and some bad. Many people appreciate that Rudder and his partners at Okcupid released a tell-all in data usage from one of the largest free dating sites on the web.

Rudder and his colleagues believe that people should have the right to know what companies like Okcupid are doing with their data. Okcupid is not selling the data they collect from the people who use his dating site to other companies. The Data is used to improve users experience on their dating site.

The book offers an in-depth look into what social media sites and search engines do with your data from analyzing keystrokes to identifying a secret population of racists by their search terms and preferences in dating. The book shows how people act in front of social media and how they act when they don’t think anyone is watching.
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Disappointed With This One 15 mai 2017
Par Happily Ever After Girl - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I was really excited to read this book for our book club at work because I thought it sounded really interesting. While some of the data is interesting, it is written in a way that just does not keep me interested enough to read it. I am about 25% of the way through and I will probably finish it at some point, but I am moving on to other books in the meantime. I was really disappointed with this one.
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