The Numerati

  • Title: The Numerati
  • Author: Stephen Baker
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (September 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547247931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547247939

I found this book at the Book Beat on our last trip to Detroit for Aviva’s mom’s 80th birthday; that store is a must-visit if you’re in the Detroit area.

The Numerati is a book that follows in the steps of Stiff in structure: each chapter is a different vignette describing how personal data is being used to change our lives, typically for the better. The idea is that “If someone could gather and organize these far-flung electronic gestures, our lives would pop into focus.” Perhaps the most stunningly positive sections are near the end, where Baker writes about data usage in medical evaluation, where a slight limp could mean impending illness where prompt treatment could make a real difference.

I thought the weakest chapter was the last which discusses online matchmaking – this seems the farthest today from viability.

Of course, the author spends time discussing privacy issues, but its obvious Stephen Baker would like to have his house wired so that, in old age, he could be promptly treated for anything coming along.

This book is a worthy read, especially if you’re interested in the use of bodies of information to affect change in our lifestyles.


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