When Player Data Mining Becomes a Social Sinkhole

There’s an excellent article on the Escapist titled “Mining the Game” (Link) which is very much worth taking the time to read. The article, written by Sara Grimes, discusses the kinds of data collection processes I once outlined in one of my more popular entries (reLink). The key difference is that while I’m elaborating on the business of this technology, she’s discussing the topic in the context of children’s online games. I’d recommend reading both to perhaps gain a broader perspective of the potentials and potential pitfalls.

Furthermore, I’d read Ms. Grime’s article last night and had already started this entry when I began thinking and writing about Rupture (reLink). While I might have sounded enthusiastic about the data mining that Rupture and others are and will be doing (and from a business perspective I am), the Escapist article raises legitimate concerns which are very much on my mind and need to be placed front and center. And because I consider this to be primarily if not exclusively a parental issue, I’d recommend that the article be widely discussed. People – especially parents – need to be educated because we can all be sure that corporations aren’t going to voluntarily restrain their activities.

2 thoughts on “When Player Data Mining Becomes a Social Sinkhole

  1. Thank you so much for the shout out – I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed the article. I’m also glad that you sent me a link to this so that I could read your own entry on data mining, which was absolutely fascinating. I’m always amazed at the intricacy of these processes – the Wal-mart scenario you depict is certainly chilling in its invasiveness.

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on the relationship between data mining and intellectual property ownership. It seems to me that it’s a fine line between providing fodder for market research and actually contributing to cultural (or other intellectual) production. Where do we draw the line between product preferences/opinions and “ideas”–and what does it mean when a game or company claims full ownership over these (potentially highly lucrative) ideas from the outset?

  2. Happy to promote that piece. It needs to be discussed.

    As to the data mining/IP issue, I frequently get into the general debate over intellectual property (e.g. Neuros). For personal reasons, I’d much prefer that consumers respect the wishes of content owners for the sake of everyone’s long-term benefit, however I now believe that the masses – especially the younger generations growing up in this free-for-all environment – will not do so, and thus I consider intellectual property to be a dying concept.

    Thus, companies claiming “ownership” for something they can’t control will eventually prove to be a greater detriment to their business than it’s worth imo. For example, I read earlier today of Adobe’s CEO raising the possibility of switching to an advertising-based model (Link). And there’s been some minor(?) debate around Ning’s Terms of Service in regards to their “owning” content (an issue which might… might… degrade their currently steep trajectory). And of course Seth Godin is probably still bumming that he got his CC license screwed up… when imo he should consider that to be a happy accident and just another facet of his “idea virus” meme.

    I think we’re moving to a Reputation-based system and as a consequence I just don’t see the issue you raise in the same light as I would if I were still concerned about relying on IP. So long as an individual is credited with an idea, then I think that’s what will matter. And if a company aggregates input from a service they provide and develops new ideas that will boost their Reputation, then I don’t think consumers will mind. And in the end, companies will do what’s socially acceptable because it’ll mean more to keep a Reputation pristine than to offend consumers (which, btw, someone will need to explain to Best Buy).

    Does that make any sense? I’m not sure I fully answered the question.

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