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Publisher's Summary

Every day, we produce loads of data about ourselves simply by living in the modern world: we click web pages, flip channels, drive through automatic toll booths, shop with credit cards, and make cell-phone calls. Now, in one of the greatest undertakings of the 21st century, a savvy group of mathematicians and computer scientists is beginning to sift through this data to profile us as workers, shoppers, patients, voters, potential terrorists, even lovers. Their goal? To manipulate our behavior - what we buy, how we vote - without our even realizing it.

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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good but not the best of the genre

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.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 09-07-13

Big Data for Humans

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.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Balanced Warning and Possibilities

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 ?

42 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • 04-17-09

Gosh golly gee whiz

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.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Numerous Reasons to Read

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 02-28-09

Who is Watching You?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Liked it and learned a lot

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • High Ridge, MO, USA
  • 06-24-09

High Expectations, poor results

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.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Theon
  • Kearns, UT, USA
  • 04-01-17

I just couldn't

What would have made The Numerati better?

I have had this book for a long time now and have started it maybe a dozen times. But I just couldn't get past the first chapter. The narration is awful and the writing is boring even fora book about numbers. I listen to lots of nonfiction and this was just unlistenable.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

very disappointing

Would you try another book from Stephen Baker and/or Paul Michael Garcia?

no

Has The Numerati turned you off from other books in this genre?

somewhat

Any additional comments?

I like books like this but this one was just random stories and interviews. Not very illuminating.