I have never watched the Brady Bunch.
This was an American TV series that ran between 1969 and 1974.
Even I am too young to have seen it.
It has generated multiple cultural references over the years as well as spin-offs.
I don’t intend to write more on this topic; if you are interested, well, you’re already online; do some clicking.
What is fascinating, is how this relates to one of the major steps in the evolution of the Internet.
Well, currently, I am working my way through Shoshana Zuboff’s tome, ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’ – the premise, developed early-on in the 700-odd weighty pages of information and references is the moment the scientists at Google first realised that their search engine could do more than, well, search.
(The book mostly focuses on the ways our online and digital behaviour – browsing, phoning, texting and, being is converted into data which is then used by Google and Facebook to sell to advertisers, not so much for space on their sites (although they get money for that as well), but, for tools such as AdWords which affects the results of search engines, allowing tailor-made experiences… Search for ‘decaffeinated coffee’ and maybe, ‘folate supplement’ and, ‘organic apple puree’ and you might be offered discounted baby wear; OK these are stereotypes, but, that is what is used within this morass of information – what I am typing, when I am typing, my speed of typing, my typos, deletions, pauses and so on and so on – all creates a profile of who I am, how I think and behave. Yes, it is potentially dark, although I watched a programme last night on the iPlayer about ‘data’ (it is available for the next 28 days) which is a little more positive.)
The Brady Bunch – how did this shine a light on searching?
Well, the computer guys at Google back in 2002, were watching their search engines when suddenly they noticed a term appearing which was out of the ordinary, ‘What was Carol Brady’s maiden name’ (see screenshot!)
Why should this have spiked i.e. why should hundreds, if not thousands of people be searching for this gem of trivia?
This coincided with the airing of Who Wants to be a Millionaire in the US.
This in itself was fascinating, what was happening at a deeper level however was the potential to see into the future, as, given the continental US with differing time-zones and programmes aired at different times, you could see from a map, when the show was being aired;
A viewer in New York might be watching at 9pm – Eastern Time, and one hour later, someone in the Mid-West, then another three hours, in San Francisco.
In other words, the person in New York has doing something three hours before the person in SF. (And, five before the folk in Hawaii).
You can use this information to great benefit, particularly in relation to election predictions.
Imagine if you have this data as well as what time I wake, go to sleep, what I eat, drink, use to wash, listen to on the radio…
Admittedly I can talk, for, I spill my guts on my blog; yet, I have some degree of control over what I share; if I don’t want to, I don’t blog.
Yet, Google and Facebook have access to everything I search on the web; and my ISP – I won’t say who, has access to everything I do online; that is phone call content, email, text, Twitter, WhatsApp… Everything I ever like or don’t like or don’t not like on FB is data.
Data mining is a word for it and can be used to understand, interpret and predict behaviour.
I won’t go further, if you want to learn more, Shoshana has just published her book; it is in Waterstones in Hard Back (£19.99) or you can spend 24 hours listening on Audible.
Everything we are, have done and will do is in essence data that can be translated into binary code that is exchanged via currency and data markets to make someone a profit.
I am now logging-off; although, you (they) already knew that!