In this tour de force of original reporting and analysis, journalist Stephen Baker provides us with a fascinating guide to the world we're all entering and the people controlling that world.
©2008 Stephen Baker; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Steve Baker puts his finger on perhaps the most important cultural trend today: the explosion of data about every aspect of our world and the rise of applied math gurus who know how to use it." (Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Wired magazine)
This is a book about the existence and contemporary use of data in todays world. The amount of data being gathered each moment is staggering. What is purchased, what people are searching for on google, where people are going, what they are reading etc. This has spawned the practice of using such data to make predictions of what is to happen - what we will be interested in, what we will but, where we will go etc. The people who do this analysis are called the numerati.
It is a very interesting read but there are two other books, Supercrunchers and the Drunkard's Walk that address this same phenomena in different and better ways. All three books demonstrate how this data is used and how one could take advantage of it.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
The Numerati examines the bright side, the dark side, and most importantly the human side, of big data.
Having read Big Data, Super Crunchers, The Signal the Noise, Naked Statistics and The Numerati somewhat recently I liked The Numerati the best by a significant margin.
The author is not a supercruncher, which I think was a good thing. Baker keeps humanity always in scope while investigating the details of big data. Even though Baker is not a supercruncher, I found this the most technically interesting of the books, delving into multivariate vector spaces without getting bogged down in equations or just telling stories. Each time a bit of technical information was presented, how that technology would impact people was also thoughtfully considered. I also felt I learned more about the subject from The Numerati than all the other books combined.
Baker uses examples that are more realistic and representative than several of the other books on the subject. The narration is clear and good, adding emphases or emotion quite nicely, but for some reason the frequency range of the reader’s voice grated on me at first and took some getting used to but after a few hours it was fine.
Great book with comfortable narrator. The story that Baker provides is one of growing science of data analysis in various sections of our lives. The description of the complexity of drawing meaningful linkages in premptive terrorist identification leaves a curious mix of encouragement and frightening anxiety over predicting a repeat of September 11th. Later chapter on medical research in variety of illnesses that inflict our own aging process is also encouraging, while incorporating a brief discussion of efforts to identify "dark cutter" steers before investing the continuing costs to raise a low profit calf, all with the use of similar electronic data gathering as those which will help warn of oncoming development of Parkinsons in a family member.
A good collection about the pace of development and variety of future applications of the "numerati" professionals who are sifting and gleaning among our everyday activities which we hardly notice. Maybe all of HAL's brethren were not disconnected in 2001 ?
mostly nonfiction listener
Highly recommended. Baker's The Numerati reports on how the growth of large-scale databases and sophisticated analytical techniques are remaking politics, business, health care and government. An excellent companion piece to Ian Ayres book " Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-By-Numbers is the New Way To Be Smart. Ayers is a member of the Numerati (and come to think of it - sort of surprising that he is not profiled in Baker's book) where Baker is a journalist. The books taken together help round out the picture on rapid growth of data and evidence based decision making.
The topic has great potential and is one I'm driven to learn more about. However, this audible book does not deliver. It is written & read with a gee whiz attitude of someone's grandpa who has not been fully cognizant of the role of technology in culture for decades. It treats the listener as though they are only capable of understanding concepts at the 6th grade level. I stopped listening about halfway through and learned just next to nil.
I was really excited to delve into a book on this topic and unfortunately this book did not meet any of my expectations. The book treats technology, data mining, etc. with a certain mysticism. It never goes in depth about the technology of the "Numerati". Much of the book cites interviews and examples. These interviews are interesting to a certain extent, but they are filled with the author's speculation; much of which is in a tone that questions the "Numerati"'s usefulness and overall good to society. Throughout the book the author's comments gave me the impression that he is against technology. This book is a political/ideological discussion. The author's background is history, not technology or math, and it is very evident in this book.
This well read book is timely. Data mining and the ramifications of such activity are presented clearly. The book is informative and worth the listener's time. If you want to be generally informed about the topic this book is a good choice. It is not so technical as to be hard to follow and will reward anyone who devotes time to it.
Lots of interesting information. I'm a non-fiction addict so this kind of thing is right up my alley. I’m in marketing (on and offline) so I was already familiar with some of what he covered. But the depth into the topic was good. It kept my interest throughout. I enjoyed it.
An eye-opener, and easy to understand and listen to, which cannot be said about all audiobooks on numbers. The author shows how Big Data is being collected on each and all of us, constantly, implacably, all sliced and diced for commercial purposes. Data is collected ceaselessly on us collectively and (chillingly) as individuals, and sold to many eager commercial customers. Corporations target ads to us; dating sites limit our choices based on our statistics and their proprietary theories; medical care is based on statistics, not us; blogs are all analyzed in every detail by Numerati because they reveal so much about the writer.
Baker enlivens his books with his travel tales as he collects the information about the Big Data revolution in American commerce, and with details from his life, which is charming and does make the numbers go down with a spoonful of sugar. I found myself listening for hours at a time, and I don't usually do that with nonfiction. I recommend this book as fascinating and entertaining ----- and it's just as well we know what is going on as we all become numbers to manipulate by big business.
This book relies too much on this author's personal experience to address some complex ideas that are hard to understand. I am a technical person by nature, and wanted to understand big data. This book was just not for me, and the narrator was just so pretentious it made me hate the book.
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