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Big Data Will Never Write a Poem

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Art & Craft in a Data-Driven Age

Big Data FTW.

With all the information we collect from you (and Bob and Carol and Ted and Ciley), we know when you’ll buy beer, buy steaks, invest in a crock pot, buy an engagement ring, get married, get pregnant, get divorced, get pregnant again, get diabetes, get congestive heart failure and, well, pretty much any of the human conditions. We know what kind of coffins people in your neighborhood buy. We know this because we track it.

We track everything from mouse clicks to toilet paper purchases.

Because we track things we can make offers you cannot resist because you just thought of it yourself. You just thought of what we already knew you’d think about.

This kind of knowing is the goal of the big-data wranglers embedded in most any marketing group these days, whether an ad agency, a car manufacturer, a hospital or my city leaders. Knowing all means better decisions—at least that’s the promise.


Years ago all this tracking would have set in motion a web of fears about being controlled. But since most of have agreed with Amazon and Netflix that we really should order this lens next and watch that movie next (because others did), we’re at peace with each day’s granular tracking.

Is there a place for the crafter in a world of analytics? I say “Yes” because despite all the predictive analytics, we still connect best with real people. Brands are not known for calling us back to our senses. As our buying and consuming gets easier and easier—which is not a good thing—we need the artists and the crafters and the writers and barista-poets to call us back to a life outside of consumption.

Big data is not likely to predict the veering humans are known for. Because, as they say: past performance does not guarantee future results.

Plus: big data will never write a poem—at least a good poem.

Long live the intuitives!


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

September 25, 2014 at 9:48 am

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