Category Archives: Big Data

Technology’s Invitation Protect Your Data

cloud circuit

“Big Data”  Like its cousin, “The Internet of Things” was given a lame name.  Either the scientists who worked on the technology were being lazy, didn’t have an iota of creativity, or they just named it with a footnote, so they could get back to whatever else they were doing!  However big data, like the air we breathe, has become part of our human story.

Recently my daughter confessed that she just clicks and agrees to a website’s User Privacy and Terms of Agreement without reading it. She claims she doesn’t have time or didn’t want to read all the legal jargon.  Her generation does a lot of mindlessly clicking and willingly sharing their personal data, it’s almost a cultural.  And companies know this, it’s one way they’ve been able to amass such a large amount of data.

Just willy-nilly clicking “Yes” to get the latest app or to log onto a hot website. The alternative is to knowingly deny ourselves of technology that we want, like Tinder and Pokémon Go.

But as a parent, it distresses me.  I’m the by-product of the cold war, having lived through the espionage age, I’m cautious and leery by design.  Truth is, I read George Orwell’s 1984 and dystopias frighten me.

Big Data presents a picture from datasets to data points, and for good or evil, the picture grows as we go along.  It’s continually gathered, collected and processed.  And the enterprises that collect, store and process our personal data have become treasure troves, susceptible to breach and targeted by hackers on the dark internet.

I was trying to understand why we don’t do a better job of protecting our data.  Maybe in an over populated world, we humans are lonely.  That would partially account for why so many of us open unsolicited emails that simple say “Hi Friend”.

Maybe its need and not greed that motivates us.  What if being desperate has that affect?

The truth of the matter is, not all data can be protected.   But in three months, we’ll see  how companies do business handling personal data in the European market, when the European Union’s GPDR goes into effect. There are hurdles for sure, but as Cloud technology continues to advance and processing data at blazing speeds is the new norm, we’ll have to do better.

It seems to me, if changing our passwords on a monthly basis helps, why wouldn’t we?  Just asking…  Technology invites us to protect ourselves.

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Filed under Apps, Big Data, Privacy, technology

AARP the Greatest Big Data

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Is it just me, or have 76.4 million other Baby Boomers, noticed the dismal failure of  AARP?

Once taunted as a Silver Tsunami, we Baby Boomers were to be a force to be reckoned with! And AARP was first to identify our numbers. I started to receive the mass mailing four years before my 50th birthday!   I was so annoyed, as it was a stark reminder that I had reached the half century benchmark.

And then, I started to think of myself as being special, being included sometimes has that affect.  And AARP mailings were upbeat and exciting.  Being fifty had it’s perks and one of them was being one of 76.4 million Baby Boomers that were invited to join an elite membership!

Now eight years later, here I am feeling mostly left out. The strength in our numbers, as more than a consumer are disappointing and on a political scale, non-existing.  It’s as though our potential which once sizzled, has fizzled and faded out.

AARP, the united front of teachers which evolved into a productive aging machine, was consciously aware of health insurance, but shied away from starting it’s own insurance.  It was a community based organization that wouldn’t enter the political arena and didn’t count its membership, as a voting bloc.

And AARP’s membership swelled.  But instead of becoming a supplier of information pertinent to its membership, a powerful knowledge dispensary like Google, AARP became a supplier/distributor of stale information targeted to old Americans.  It’s branding was marketed to an organic audience, to which they teased, “You don’t know AARP”.

Famous Baby Boomers became AARP spokespeople with no qualifications, or passion other than they, like all the rest of us had just aged and gotten old.  Apparently aging is an equal opportunist.

Whoopie Goldberg, the Baby Boomer comedian and Tom Hanks, the beloved actor who successfully portrayed real life Baby Boomer heroes, like Captain Sully who landed a commercial airplane on the Hudson River.

I was invited to participate in Boomer Technology in Boston, where I was allowed to interview AARP workers.  At one convention I wrote about an AARP initiative, computer classes for older Americans across America being led by young people, these they cleverly called AARP-TEK.

Ironically, everyone seemed prophetically aware of the impact of technology on an aging population.  But there was no urgency or sense of purposefulness, it was as if AARP could out-smart the smart technology by simply co-existing and entering the workplace.

We were the original pioneers of the World Wide Web; we lauded technology and intentionally installed cable into our homes, like some Orwellian Big Brother interior designer.  We welcomed that first fertile layer of smart technology and watched it as it grew.  It’s important to note, that back then we had a choice, both in policy and legislation and we understood the importance of Net Neutrality.

The doctrine “To serve and not be served” makes us complacent and passive aggressive.  Our vast numbers scream democracy, but we whisper in our collective activism, with all the vulnerabilities of an aging population.  We are faced with much more than just being prey to the usual scam artists.  As government supplements are snatched away and replaced with crumbs.

New technology is being developed so fast, just as we are slowing down.  Just as we are faced with our own moments of dementia, we’re being exposed to sophisticated hacks by cyber criminals.

It’s hard to look back and not see where we didn’t make a difference, but that’s the thing about growing old… One realizes too late, that youth is wasted on the young.  We think of our job as being done, when in fact it’s just transforming.  I remember analog technology’s metamorphosis into digital technology, but barely recognize old friends.

But there are success stories; many of my friends now walk around on titanium knees. We laugh and joke, as if they can run faster.  That’s the result of an active imagination that watched a lot of television.  It’s left a strong impression on us and we believe, if the Bionic Man and Bionic Woman could do it, then “Hell Yeah” we could do it too!

Thanks to technology, our expectations have grown. We’re living longer, with chronic illnesses that once killed humans.  It’s a clear indication that we’re pioneers of aging in a digital era and that we’re not our grandparents at this age.

Recently I’ve been thinking how the greatest ideas sometimes remain dormant.   That without fuel or a guidance system, those ideas aren’t engaging and don’t take hold.  It’s then that we aren’t trying to improve life.  Which seems such a waste of time, why else are we alive if we aren’t meant to make life better?

And so that’s what technology is for.  It is meant to make us the great contenders and doers, starting small businesses with which to cater to “US”.

History shows us how life might’ve been, with hindsight we glimpse the benefits of knowledge coupled with imagination.  How an invention can become much improved when creativity is allowed to flourish.  It’s then that the invention is given that “Wallah!” moment.

China invented Gunpowder (sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate) and for 400 years used it as a propellant for firework displays.  And then along came innovation, coupled with creativity that transformed how gunpowder was used, it became a powder keg that changed the world, or so we think…

I can’t be certain, but it seems that AARP missed an opportunity as well.

When an organization fails to gather and collect data in a cohesive way; when it doesn’t or won’t see further along than the tip of its nose; won’t or can’t make datasets or gather intelligence and other health information, or use financial graphs to determine best use practices, when an organization that starts out gathering so many people in a collective membership can think of little more than to sell its members on the benefits of Cellular One- Smartphones, with easy read displays and extra large numbers… the question we should ask is:  “What if AARP did something great, really great?”

Our numbers are that great; as great as our expectations once were.  We, Baby Boomers, the original pioneers of the internet are a treasure trove of Big Data.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, Creativity, cyber-security, Uncategorized

Tech Enlightened

$ Lightbulb

Progress! By definition, smart technology implies intelligence and enlightenment.  Used responsibly, it improves life on a global scale and it begs the question, what happens when a lightbulb is unscrewed?

Once upon a time, people worried that electricity would leak from an empty socket.   And we can understand how they might’ve reached that conclusion, it seems reasonable.

Most great technology that improves life also has the potential to be harmful. There’s a dark side that if left unmonitored could present a real danger. From x-rays to Big Data, we’ve become increasingly powerful and vulnerable all at once.

Technology has become incredibly small, invisible to most microscopes and yet, quantifiably humongous. Usurping our lives but also improving it, making everything we do in real-time tangible and with results that can be analyzed, understood and used for good.

And all the while, our footprints can be tracked, stacked and gathered.  How we do what we do, when we do it, where we’re doing it, analyzed and visualized.  The right questions asked, the algorithm applied and the data collected.

Smart cities that measure pot holes and compute their own capacity-duress until repair, can schedule that pavement crew and reroute traffic, anticipate patterns and give curbside bus arrival updates, all in real-time.   Smart cars can intuitively not start when their drivers are inebriated, and likewise won’t start when they’re not road worthy, offering alternate modes of transportation, in some Uber- Lyft social good package, for free!

Smart  smart technology won’t lie, won’t hide, but what if it could be programmed to monitor the good it does?   Like fear is good.

Being cautious doesn’t mean we won’t proceed, just that we’re mindful in its use, the way we might lean over a window sill; seeing so much and yet careful not to fall out.  we can have the great technology and maintain a survival technique, the flight and fight adrenaline that propels us into action, not darkness.

In a digital world that’s spinning incredibly fast, having a sense of fear might preserve a culture.   Might remind us that we’re a learned society, one that has long been enlightened and free of walls.

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Filed under Big Data, innovation, tech, technology

The Pursuit of Smarty Pants

#smarty pants d

Smarty pants!  Not so long ago that label was reserved for sarcasm and usually accompanied by some form of bullying.   It wasn’t exactly an endearment that made you the “Big Girl On Campus”

But what if?

Much of what’s happening in our digital world happens so fast, that before it’s completely absorbed, we’re onto the next thing.   What was once generally accepted as taboo, is added to our “To Do” lists.   And jumbled together, what’s derogatory is the new compliment!   Hello.

When it won’t fit neatly into our compartments, we stuff the data into storage space.   Renting clouds is like that, from standard to hybrids.  They’ve become a necessity, and what we once paid for, is now free, a supposed perk of disruptive innovation.

But remember Blockbuster Videos, the store that rented out our favorite games and videos?  It was quickly replaced by Netflix’s streaming videos on-demand.  And once upon a time, we didn’t blink twice to be charged for an email account, that too became passé.   Acronyms can be like that, easily replacing an “L”  for an “A”, making us laugh out loud at  America On-Line.

Still, deep down inside, we know that nothing is free.   We’ve simply exchanged one thing for something else, the latest commodity, our personal data.

Facebook recently had a judgment made against them, by the EU court in Europe, on a privacy case.   A case with such huge ramifications that it’s most likely a triple threat- dare, of the mammoth size, where there’ll be no clear winners.

It seems that the digital world doesn’t turn in a predetermined static-free orbit, after all.  But instead it’s in a constant state of flux.    Laws written fifteen years ago have become out dated, transcontinental e-commerce that was once all the rage, is now the brunt of outrage.   And it’s hard to predict which way it goes.

Because technology just keeps moving, incapable of feeling, it’s capable of separating good people from their data.   The word open platform doesn’t always lead to bug fixes, or great results.   Sometimes, it leads to new ways to discover breaches to be breached.

And budgets spent to fix what’s discovered, breaks relations and leads to distrust and clandestine meetings.  A cycle, that the Internet Of Things might avert, because its capable of firewalling data in that machine to machine way, without being paranoid.   Making ulterior motives apparent and functioning more efficiently.

But first… we all put our pants on the same way, one leg at a time.

As we pull our digital pants on, we’ll know what data is collected and dispersed.   Data collected will be gathered by how hard we pull today versus yesterday.  Whether that movement was swift or jerky; and if our grip around the waist band was strong or weak.  And was the fit loose or snug?  Things like body temperature and amino acid level inside, read by an inseam.  Our diet adjusted automatically, and accordingly.

Oh, and the best part will be the multi-functional zipper.  The head-end that communicates to the internet of things– Our refrigerator and our coffee machines.  Simultaneously turned on, preferred sources of information will stream in real-time.   Our location, the day’s weather, morning traffic and news.  The pharmacy notified, pre-written prescriptions filled and the car’s heated seats, turned on.

While there’s a lot that might go Topsy-Turvy, there’s an awful lot that might just go right.   The true pursuit of happiness in a pair of smarty pants!

Nicely done, aging in place.

 

 

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Filed under Big Data, Internet of Things, tech, technology, Wearables

Pink Lemonade, the New Slice of Pie

L Pies

“What’s my plan?”

I’m not sure how to respond; I’m trying to figure it out, as I go along.  Lately life has supplied a bushel of lemons, and I’m familiar with the saying “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade” but what I’d really like to know is how do I make it into a slice of lemon pie?

For years, I’ve been delving around on the internet trying to get published.  But working full-time and raising a family limited the time I spent and some sites that offered me a steady readership, PNN (defunct) and Yahoo, byline offered anemic compensation.

But I’ve also seen some succes.  There was a “Name Us” on-line contest, an experiment that went viral with international submissions.   I entered the name “Pxyl” and won.   The company has since been named to INC Magazine 5000 list, as one of America’s fastest growing companies, maybe there’s magic in a name.   I won a Kindle (I still have it) and they’ve mentioned my name a few times.

The MIT Age Lab in Cambridge, MA selected me to participate in a driving study.  I was exposed to new technology, and discovered that age does have its perks.   I was given the keys to a specially equipped vehicle, and connected by electronic leads to external computers, while video cameras mounted in the interior of the vehicle recorded me driving along the highway.    The data and my responses were gathered, collected and uploaded to a Cloud in real time.

The world is fast changing and I’m interested in everything!  This past August I was invited to Maine for a huge tech conference and saw first hand how the business IT landscape is changing.  And yes, I noticed that it was mostly men, so I was happy to write about the many doors that are opening for Girls Coding.   Meanwhile, the open platforms, the cost of processors (dropped) and the Internet of Things is real and it’s all rather amazing!

I’m a technician at heart.  My mind is trained to always approach a problem by getting on its good side, and the only dumb question, is the one that wasn’t asked.  So I started to ask questions on the internet to anonymous engineers.  I took a free on-line coding class, I read and wrote and realized I was becoming more and more unemployable.   Social media seemed appealing, so I decided to become a brand.

In April of 2014, I created a pseudonym, both tech savvy and internet friendly, named TechnyGal.  I started a blog, first on the WIX  platform and then here, on WordPress.  I opened a Twitter account and tied them to Facebook.  I purchased a few domain names Technygal.com and PinkisTheNewGreen.net  and then I started writing.

Two months later I received an email from the Washington Post Live, inviting me to a forum in Boston, I accepted.  The next day, I received another invitation to attend a 3 day conference being held in Boston, by AARP  50+ Life Reimagined.  I graciously accepted.

While seated at a Press only luncheon, I leaned over and confessed to an executive VP, that I had no idea of how I had gotten there and that I was humbled and overwhelmed.  She smiled and replied, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”  So I have…

It’s been less than a year, and I’m thinking more and more of what direction I’d like Technygal to go in, and I’m thinking it includes girls coding, selling lemonade and getting bigger slices of pie.  But like I said, I’m not sure of how I’m doing what I’m doing, there’s just this steady movement always forward.

Your suggestions are welcome…

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, facebook, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, Internet, small business, technology, Twitter

BigData’s Invisible Hand

binoculars bird eyes2

Technology is wonderful, especially for us, the nation of consumers.

We have a flair for commercialism, created by businesses that once mailed catalogs to our homes, for free.  Thoroughly enticed by their colorful pages of merchandise, we became browsers and took turns flipping through the pages, earmarking the most viewed pages with sugarplum wishes.

It comes as no surprise, that as the holidays approach, technology’s Internet of Things is offering a smorgasbord of possibilities to further delight us, and to make our lives better!   Some finger swipes across a touchscreen, from social media to products purchased to services rendered, will organically link us together, without a common purpose.

Because in a digital world, engaging impressions like Selfies, Tweets and Likes, will be collected and gathered.

Bigdata, the invisible hand of real time analytics, will store, sell and re-distribute free consumer swipes of  creature habits once unattainable due to privacy rights.  Now freely associated with intimate interests, it will link us into smaller demographic groups and create marketing tools in “Consumer Nation”.

Disruption is good when it separates the mediocre, that which isn’t sustainable from the bad, that which might’ve been overlooked.   Sometimes, being lulled into a false sense of security isn’t the worse of it; things like changing your password each month, might be the least effective thing to be done.  Not because of peeking eyes, but because we keep forgetting the new password.   Use your big eyes to see a bird’s eye view.

We are, after all a nation growing older and that’s another issue…  pitfall.

But at some point, when new technology has replaced all of our passwords with retina and fingerprint identification, the old patterns that made us feel secure, will also come back.   Cataracts and wrinkles might undo what’s achieved, but by then we might be backwards compatible.  Bringing back the need for stronger passwords.

Disruption can be like that…

It’s like being asleep in your warm bed, having a lovely little dream.  When suddenly, you’re violently shaken and forced awake by screams, “the house is on fire!”    You’re not mad, you’re grateful.  It’s that scenario that makes you realize that disruption can be a good thing. That the dream, as lovely as it was, was simply in your head… the same place where technology began.

Today’s petri dish for successful startups with new products and new ways to do old things is a joy.   So internet sales rejoice, there’ll be less cars on the roads; less pollution in the air and gas prices will go down.  Less travel on the road equates to more time that we can stay home and watch television, mindlessly swiping our touchscreens and learning the words to catchy jingles.

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Filed under Big Data, Consumers, Eyegalsses, facebook, gadget, Internet, Internet of Things, Marketability, small business, social media, tech, technology, Telephone, Television, Twitter

Thinking Outside The Bubble

1 Internet of everything

 

What’s in a name?

I was thinking that we humans have a tendency to forget things. That is, we walk into a room and fully forget what we came in to get; we drive our car home and forget where we put the car keys.   Well, we should all be able to remember this name.

“The Internet of Things”

Lazy and rather unimaginative, this name does what most names don’t actually do, it defines, describes and categorizes, then answers the question: “What is it?”

Once a theory and quickly realized, anything equipped with a sensor could be in constant communication with a computer processor.  I can almost imagine the first MIT scientists throwing their hands up in technological glee, fully inspired by the sheer volume of their discovery!

Now a coffee pot in their office could “talk” to the refrigerator down the hall.  And both could be programmed to “talk” to humans, as well as machines and more, these enchanted objects would be able to add cream and milk to your grocery list, as well as perform “yet to be thought of” applications.  Big Data (with it’s equally unimaginative name) would gather and collect executable data, which could be analyzed in real time.

Mind boggling and still evolving into what just might be “the internet of nearly EVERYTHING”.

The Digital Age has jettisoned technology closer to a television cartoon with a similar name (The Jetsons).  We don’t have flying cars, but who knows?  Everything seems possible with sensors and a computer’s magical little black box, that processes code.  That leads to technology getting smarter and smarter.

Change is coming, both progressive and disruptive.   It can decimate confidence, shake up the bottom line and place a strain on long standing traditions.  And we’re all prone to its “Goosies”,  that skin tingling sensation induced by excitement or fear or disbelief.

Mature businesses, like older people will feel it acutely, maybe more so than start-up companies and younger, tech savvy people, who never used letterhead on bond paper and couldn’t tell the difference.  But having different efficiency levels shouldn’t be a license to feast, one on the other.

It’s wiser to work together; bartering and collaborating like our ancestors did when they first discovered fire.  And again, when they put fire to a best use practice, smelting iron and forging steel.   Factoid, teamwork will always lessen a load.

We’ll have to use technology smartly, because finger swipes across a screen is not a measure of intelligence.   We’ll also need to put on our thinking caps, which will act as a protective helmet in the event of a crash.

The mind is a powerful bubble making machine, full of ideas.  So, what happens when a thought bubble pops?

I say we harness the gases for propulsion, fasten your seatbelt.   It’s gonna be a helluva ride!

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, cellphone, Code, Coding, gadget, Internet, ipad, iPhone, tech, technology, Twitter

Readers of Code

world book 9

I like that people are reading. For a long while it seemed that people had stopped reading, but now thanks in part to social media, people are reading more, albeit snippets of information.

Still, these easy readers, Tweets, status updates and likes, have created a renewed readership, with links to blogs and articles, that have been written by real writers. Technology, it seems is getting people to read!

Once upon a time, I was an avid reader. Not voracious, but still very much on top of things. I read any genre and was always on the lookout for new writers. It seemed that I had more leisure time, and I was a fast reader, able to enjoy a quick read as well as a long casual one.

Books you see, are my friends. They stay up with me when I can’t sleep, whispering to me about new ideas, old innuendos and faraway places right here on earth. Books lean against the wall, or sit patiently on the table, stacked and ready for my retreat into them, away from reality.

I like to savor what I read. Let the words swirl around inside my head. Discover new thoughts, evoke emotions that softly touch or ruffle up against the edges of a memory. All mine. If left to my own vices, I’d sit with a nice glass of chardonnay and read a whole book; a book a day, as if it were an elixir, ah …

Unfortunately, I have fewer hours to read. But I make time to visit the library and I browse local bookstores. Because I like the way a book feels in my hands, as much as I like the smooth feel of my iPad, which replaced my 1st generation Kindle.

And in addition to that, I’ve been learning code. I’m a big advocate that all girls should learn code, and wasn’t I once a girl?

So, I signed up for an Edx course, purchased a few books and started to run programs on a computer. (And here, dear reader is where I must add a disclosure: “I’m not a computer geek, not a rocket scientist and not a genius and not a programmer.”) I’m a student in the world of variables and integers.

Anyway, yesterday I curled up with my book, my laptop and executed a C program in terminal with Gedit. It was mind-boggling, as I started to believe, that if you read it, you can understand and do it. And to that end, I’m learning.

I created a social message about girls coding in MIT’s Scratch website; it allows you to code with blocks. (For giggles, here is my project, click the green flag Girls Jump.)

I like that people are reading again. Technology it seems, does require us to think and it’s making us readers of code. And that’s a good thing.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, Code, Coding, Gender, Girls, social media, tech, technology, Twitter, Women

Type Casting Technology

1 tech typewriter
By definition I’m a Baby Boomer. Born in the United States from 1946 to 1964; I am a by-product of that military minded society that gave birth to modern technology.

I have an affinity, a predilection and a preference for the propaganda of that era, both proud of country and invincible. If there was a way to improve the human condition, there was a genuine hope and determination and a willfulness to make it happen. And three inventions– television, the computer and the microwave made it so; they changed society.

Television that boob tube was the American dream personified. We sang television commercials as if they were the Billboard’s Top Ten: “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is,” for Alka-Seltzer and Virginia Slim’s, “To get where you’ve got to today, you’ve got your own cigarette now baby, you’ve come a long, long way.”

It began with the end to dried up leftovers, like meatloaf. That tricky dinner meant to feed a family of five on a budget of three. Goodbye cold brown brick and hello hot and juicy!

Technology has forever changed our world, Luddites have no place here. Like my old fishy typewriter; the one I found when I was eleven years old. It’s heavy and I can’t type, but I like the way it looks and smells. I also like the voice activated software that I’ve loaded onto my computer.

We Baby Boomers haven’t invented everything, but we perfected some things and we did it on a grand scale. Tablets, cellphones and a commercial space program. I’m grateful for all of that, for what we’ve achieved and for what we have and I still don’t like dried up leftovers, but I like having a choice. Et Tu?

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Filed under AARP, Apps, Baby boomers, Big Data, Gender

Welcome to the Digital Divide

1 Range Circuit_Board
For years, the digital world seemed to be just up ahead; a futuristic place that existed beyond our dreams and over a mountain, like a rainbow. It culled our imaginations, and made us ask “What if?”

The digital divide seemed accessible by car and markings on the roadway, those dashes painted on the asphalt guided us along, by keeping us in our respective lanes. It was orderly, like life itself.

Trees flew past so fast that they didn’t resemble themselves, instead the blurred images helped fuel our curiosity. From the car’s window we pondered life and the big blue marble, called earth. Road trips had that effect. And when we returned to school we’d have questions, like “What does a cloud taste like?”

On Monday morning, we’d gather in the schoolyard and whisper; a discussion about which questions should be brought up in class; the probable, the impossible and the iffy-iffy.

One student would ask a question, the teacher would answer and then someone else would ask a question. Like a string of pearls in a leap frog fashion- a question led to an answer to a question and another and so on; until finally the bell rang. The class would end and the teacher wouldn’t have taught us anything; and somehow, we felt empowered by the disruption.

It was especially exciting when the teacher realized, albeit too late, that he’d been duped into answering pointless questions. It validated our cleverness and added meaning to our lives. A harmless prank, one in which we delayed progress, that is the day’s lessons and entertained ourselves.

And it’s about to begin again, but this time there’s more at stake. It’s not simply a question of what a cloud tastes like, but rather what exactly can a cloud do with big Data?

Deciding that and what questions to ask isn’t as provocative, as the next question, that is: “How do we protect our information?” and “What information is worth protecting?” and “Is a data breach the only way to know the difference?”

Welcome to the digital divide, a disruption in progress.

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Filed under Big Data, Coding, Consumers, social media, tech, technology