I made a post on this blog earlier this semester containing a sort of response to Foreman’s piece on machine learning and data privacy. The recent class discussion has brought a thought to my head that I didn’t get to mention in class and thought was worth sharing. On his blog, Foreman wrote that ‘humans are bad at discerning the value of their data’. While I don’t intend to staunchly disagree with this since it is quite visibly true, I would like to focus on how much we actually care about the ‘exhaust out of life’s tailpipe’. After reading about the ‘quantified selfers’, I realize that it is entirely possible to care about at least some of our data, which I thought was interesting.

These quantified selfers cared enough about their data, their trends, to purchase one or more devices to track themselves. As Boesel puts it, it ‘is not so much narcissism, but nerdery’. The simple idea of and excitement from tracking this data shows that the Quantified Selfers actually assigned some worth to this information. The fact that most of the participants weren’t doing it for self-improvement, but for its own sake, seems to assign even more value to it.

Data means different things in different contexts.  It also carries a different amount of weight depending on who sees it. To the typical person today, their personal data doesn’t really mean that much to them, hence, they don’t care what happens to it. To the QS’ers, it’s a way of life. To an advertising entity, it may mean a lot of money. To a Silicon Valley tech junkie, it may be a hobby. To a call center, it may be a means to an end, such as improving productivity and employee retention.

I found a calculator online that attempts to put a monetary value on your data (from the perspective of a data broker). I can’t speak for its accuracy, but it’s interesting to play with, nonetheless.

The piddly worth of my data. (screenshot from the calculator linked below).

The piddly worth of my data. (screenshot from the calculator linked below).

Calculate the monetary value of your data here.