It’s Wednesday, 27 April 2022 in Portland, Oregon and the ratio of blue to grey in the skybox above is around 35% blue to 65% grey, but with a whole bunch of non-uniform clumping in a way that’s not entirely reminiscent of the cosmic microwave background radiation.
Favorite recent dad joke: With 42 decks, the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D is by far the largest presentation Starfleet has ever sent out into the wider galaxy.
I’m reasonable sure I’ve written before about the in-retrospect negative externalization of “storage is cheap, don’t throw anything away” line of thinking that I think emerged in the early 2000s. Used to be storage was expensive and now it’s really, really not! Anyone can have a few petabytes at home!
Now it’s more like fast storage is expensive, and the stuff on spinning disks is cheap thanks to a combination of reliability being handled through software and The Fantastic Journey of Magnetic Eddies1, or something.
It’s complicated to decide what to keep and what to throw away, so at some point, it seems reasonable that in the grand scheme of things, when storage is so cheap, why bother thinking about what to keep and what to throw away, and why not just simply keep everything? You can sort it all out later.
(One ADHD way of looking at this is through the concept of Doom Boxes, which on one level are the boxes you might see scattered around an ADHD house that look like collections of random objects, but are actually attempts to organize. Now, you might think they’re called Doom Boxes due to the feeling of doom they engender in ADHD people about the sheer difficulty of organizing, but the sad horror is that Doom also stands for Didn’t Organize, Only Moved. Which, you know. “Keep all your data”, and all that.)
This is (imagine I’m handwaving) a bit like the concept of a data warehouse where on one level you’re taking a whole bunch of stuff you have, sweeping it into a giant vat with some special giant vat software, and stirring it a lot hoping that every so often something useful will get excreted out and make everyone happy that Business Value has been Delivered2.
I’ll get to the point: there’s this Facebook Data Lineage internal document that’s been leaked. Vice covered the document leak, and David Carroll has a write-up of the leak in Tech Policy Press. Long and short of it: Facebook is throwing a shit-ton of user data into a data lake (snarf) and uses 15,000 features (individual points of data per user, I think?) in their ad targeting models. The problem is that it turns out when you have this much data and you haven’t had to think about it too hard, you… can’t know for sure what you do with that data, or where it goes!
Now, this is important because there are regulations (namely: the EU’s GDPR) that require you to know you’re doing with someone’s data. I mean, you’re not required to know, I suppose. You’re required to tell the subject of that data what’s being done with that data, but it all comes out in the end.
We talk about data being oil and we talk about data fracking and then there’s also the example of getting a shit-ton of data and throwing it down a big hole in the ground and creating, I don’t know, a data superfund site/brownfield site where honestly “we don’t know what’s going on in there”. Data analogies and metaphors abound!
So, you know. Just another example of “when things are cheap humans will cut corners and be lazy about thinking” because honestly, that’s the evolutionarily smart thing to do. Why think, when you can store now and think later?
For the sake of argument, let’s just say there’s a hypothetical slack I’m in where people have a ritual of saying “good morning” to each other because it’s a closed, small group and this is how people reinforce friendships.
That conversation might go a bit like this:
b: good morning Monday!
c: it’s only Monday
d: it’s only 2022
(okay, d is me).
And look, sure, this is totally shower-thought worthy but there’s this caught-my-attention here because the sequence in my head here to complete is:
Does that mean there’s a bunch of horrible stuff to come? Or (more that caught my attention) does that mean there’s a whole bunch of good stuff to come? I mean, hopefully, a mixture of both.
Okay, that’s it for today.
How are you doing? It’s Wednesday and so far there’ve been no temporal anomalies. Every single day has felt like the day it’s supposed to be. Even though That Thing Happened that we’re not talking about here.
How are you doing?
This is after, of course, Eddie made his journey through the space-time continuum to land in the electromagnetic fields. ↩
I’m going to see if anyone actually goes down to these footnotes because I just came up with the concept of Business Value Reveal Parties, or simply BVRs, for Business Value Reveals, which is my new name for “strategy and planning presentations” or “that thing where you have an all-hands” or “why we’re acquiring this company”. Look: Delivering business value is like Delivering a Baby and Babies must have a Gender which is Revealed using an assortment of munitions and Colored Smoke. ↩
The Cambrian explosion was far shorter than we thought, the Natural History Museum, 19 February 2019 ↩