I have been working as a consultant, coaching and investing in startups time in startups for the past few years after a career in the charitable sector. I have used databases, spreadsheets, algorithms and intuition to help people make better decisions. Better is a relative term laden with personal bias and appreciation. In a conversation a month ago, a colleague planted a seed that has been trying to grow through the pavement of my mindset and certainty. She said ” after 15 years, I have concluded that donors don’t want data to assist them in their philanthropic decisions” I countered with ” doesn’t the data allow the mind to listen to the heart?” She strongly responded “no”.
I got thinking about how social marketers, sales associates, businesses and corporations, government administrations use all the information they collect. What I discovered is disappointing. Most (all) don’t disseminate their findings so I can make a more informed decision. Rather they use the collected points to manipulated an already confirmed trend. Usually the trend is towards additional commitments, acquiescence, or consumption. This seems worse that libertarian paternalism because generally those choice architecture suggestions are intended to help me make a decision that is better for me. The way I have observed governments, politicians and businesses use their proprietary collection is to help them ‘sell’ us something that is good for government, politicians and businesses.
I have willingly shared many of my habits (loyalty programs, surveys and focus groups) and realise that moving through space with any of my devises turned on leaves a discernible footprint which changes the way I am approached. The goal isn’t to make my life better.
With that said, what do we do? Some are disconnecting, rejecting and hiding. I read a piece in NYT that suggests that we should all disconnect from social media or risk destroying our careers. I am mulling what would work for my current situation and what would serve me better in the future.
Make Today Remarkable, for you, by considering who is collecting and who is pushing,