The Cultural Logic of Computation
lis450: Info Agencies & Their Environments
In the introduction to his book “The Cultural Logic of Computation,” David Golumbia argues that computers have become a huge part of our culture and that the expansion of data is infiltrating our cultural processes. The author claims that computer technology and “big data” can be very useful tools if used in the correct way, but allowing a computer to do our work for us is one step along a slippery slope.
In the interview that I chose to review, “IBM Harnessing Big Data Mining Potential: Karsan”, (Bloomberg TV, 2013) Rudy Karsan, founder of Kenexa Corp, now owned by IBM, argues the business point of view and opposite of Golumbia, stating that such increased use of computer technology and big data can only improve humanity.
Among the examples Karsan used is how IBM is processing data posted in job applications and on the Internet to help hiring managers select applicants for jobs. IBM is taking “the cloud together with big data and allowing their clients to access the benefits of having cloud computing with the insight and data that is revealed by massive amounts of data,” Karsan said.
Based on IBM’s big data analysis, the most important factor driving employee turnover in the retail industry is the time of commute to work. How long it takes a person to get to their job can potentially indicate whether an employee stays at a job for six months (average) or three years (desired). Karsan said information such as this can be gathered and processed as big data and, if used correctly, can assist big companies like Wal-Mart to hire workers that will stay with the company for longer periods of time.
Karsan cited other areas where big data analysis can by useful. For example, he sees a big opportunity for using big data in areas like New York City where the crime rate was significantly reduced after the police started to better monitor the areas of heavy traffic and violence and follow more closely those more likely to commit crimes. Big data analysis can even help baseball teams fill holes in their rosters.
Although Golumbia feels that big data can be a useful tool, he also notes that potential pitfalls exist. For example, maybe there are good workers who live a long way from a Wal-Mart, or maybe the applicants would be willing to move to the area. This factor would not be included in the data.
Perhaps because he is in the business of selling “big data,” Karsan neglects to mention any problems that may result from the over use of big data.