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The Value of Data when Dead, or Alive

by Andrew White  |  September 23, 2013  |  1 Comment

First the good news.  In Top Climate Scientists admit global warming forecasts were wrong, the Telegraph reports on a leaked report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  This is the group that is used to defend all manner of political policy to curtail rampant and unbridled economic growth in the interests of saving the planet.  Turns out the scientists have got some figures wrong.  Worse, they found out now that the earth has actually been warmer, even before the Industrial Revolution.  Ooops?

This is not new news – really.  What is new news is that the practitioners of Climate Change are admitting their numbers aren’t exactly right.  It could be that we just don’t understand, yet, the actual impact we humans have on the earth and its climate.  It could be that large things such as solar flares and the sun have far more impact than we.  We just don’t know.  So in the mean time, keep paying those carbon taxes, would you mind?  We know that it’s a good principle.  It may just not be as important.

Of course, there is value in this information.  Some politicians have gotten, inconveniently, very rich on the back of government policy mandating taxes and trading.  It is not that the data is wrong here- it is arguable that the models developed, and the process used to develop them, are just as at fault as the data.  And my comments are probably more political in nature than academic.  But anyway, its good news.  And it’s Friday.

Now the bad news.  Did you know that when you die you cannot, legally (at present), pass on your iTunes account and all its digital media to someone you love?  Well, in Make Sure You Know Who Will Inherit Your Twitter Account, the Wall Street Journal explains how concerned citizens should plan for their demise with a “digital inheritance” to make sure that what is valuable can legally be passed on.  For example, it seems iTunes has no provision in the agreement you signed, that allows you to pass the account on.  The license reverts back to Apple.  However, the account could be put into a trust, and the passwords shared with your family, such that they might keep access to the digital media.  That’s the theory, anyway.  And there are a whole lot more digital assets out there that might concern you.

What about your blogs, or your Facebook account?  Your Twitter stream, or Instagram pictures?  If you have been “life logging” or gathering your own “quantified self”, what do you do with that data?  It turns out that at present, there is no singular concept of a digital footprint and so each and every stream of data will likely go the way of your corporeal self – all over the place and every which way.  Time to build a list – and create more work for the legal guys to haggle over once you get your feet firmly settled.

Additional Resources

Category: dark-data  data-and-analytics-strategies  enterprise-information-management-eim  information-innovation-yield-curve  information-management  information-theory  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a Distinguished Analyst and VP. His roles include Chief of Research and Content Lead for Data and Analytics. His main research focus is data and analytics strategy, platforms, and governance. Read Full Bio


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  1. […] First the good news. In Top Climate Scientists admit global warming forecasts were wrong, the Telegraph reports on a leaked report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is the group that is used to defend all manner of…  […]



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