MATRIX MULTIPLICATION AND THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

Response to Matrix Multiplication and the Digital Divide by Oscar H. Gandy, Jr.

2/19/16

     I wasn’t particularly keen on the flow of Gandy’s essay, but he did make some solid points and the chapter really helped further my knowledge of data mining. Before reading Matrix Multiplication and the Digital Divide, all I knew about data mining was that there’s some sort of software out there that tracks your likes through clicks and it brings up personalized advertisements to your social media outlets such as Facebook or YouTube. Now after reading this chapter, I know it’s a lot more than that. Throughout the reading I found out how this type of software can really segregate people into certain types of groups since the software basically defines who and what the user is. As Gandy puts it “Data mining’s special value is it’s ability to derive knowledge from the patterns and relationships in data that would be invisible without the aid of software designed to become more accurate through use.” (pg 130) Data mining can promote positivity, however the fact that it categorizes internet users by racially profiled characteristics creates more of a corrupt segmentation of communities.

     In the chapter Gandy goes onto explain that “portals appear to contribute the least to consumer welfare as their users pay a higher price despite a lower product fit.” (pg 137) So basically the agent is being benefited rather than the consumer since all they’re doing is constantly taking stored information from the internet users cookies. This is known as corrupt segmentation. This type of system is taking advantage of consumers and what’s even worse is that websites that are mostly used by a certain race are getting taken advantage the most according to Gandy. This is mostly because certain online sites need a specific type of product which in the end makes it easier to exploit them and categorize them based on these products.

     This was overall an interesting read. It opened my eyes to a lot of things and even helped me to protect myself from data miners. I personally feel that once one is educated on this issue, it is important to enlighten those that may be unaware to prevent them from being taken advantage of. I don’t feel this is something that most people know. I certainly didn’t. I actually thought data mining was a good thing as I’m always being introduced to ads that I do like such as electronics, make-up, cute furniture, etc. However, I had no idea that I might possibly be racially categorized and taken advantage of. I do think that once an internet user does become aware of this, it is up to them to take responsibility on how much information they put out on there.

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