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Our data-driven society may soon send workers to the unemployment line

This week's Searchlight features a look at our data-driven world's potential effect on workers, the next big job in big data, deduping myths and more.

Is it good enough to be good -- even great -- at your job? In a data-driven future, the answer might be no, and lead to a rather unceremonious dismissal. There's even a catchphrase to describe the phenomenon -- "data Darwinism." (It's been used previously, but with a different definition.)

In this week's lead Searchlight item, GigaOM's Om Malik uses this turn of phrase in a meditation on what our hyperconnected world means for the future of work. You know that world, the one in which 15% of information workers are always connected (a number that's expected to increase).

Just as people have become accustomed to rating and ranking every experience, from Facebook photos to restaurants to today's headlines, they will become accustomed to ranking other human beings, Malik surmises. You might be a great cab driver, but if you have a bad day -- or shuttle someone who's not feeling great -- your job could be at stake. Malik notes that it's already happening, citing the real-life example of some Uber drivers being fired by the personal transportation company because of bad customer reviews.

I find it all more than a little unsettling. Malik points out that most societal shifts are accompanied by a sense of unease, and this shift is no different. Questions of the legal and ethical ilk will have to be addressed: For example, in a data-driven world, will customer-serving workers be protected from the anonymous ratings of their clientele? Will online commenters think twice about airing negative opinions, knowing someone's livelihood is at stake? After all, it's one thing to go on a hyperbolic rant about how much your new refrigerator stinks, and quite another to pour that vitriol on a human being. But, you know, that's just my online opinion.

Also this week: If you're a "visual person," you're in luck -- you could be part of the next big thing in big data. Plus, dispelling deduplication myths, an early vision of ubiquitous computing, and Dilbert.

Check out's own coverage of these topics

Big data analytics, number-crunching nation

In big data visualization seeing is believing -- but is that good?

The social networking revolution will go only so far as the people

  • In this big ole crazy world, it's comforting to know we're all connected. Until some jerk gives you a bad review.
  • Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, even Windows 8: Everything we interact with these days is so visual, it's no wonder the Harvard Business Review predicts the next hot job in big data will be visualization expert.
  • Six myths about data deduplication debunked by an expert. I have a seventh -- despite being flagged as a misspelling, deduplication is, in fact, a real word.
  • If you have ill feelings about the third party applications hanging out in your Microsoft environment, you're right to keep a close eye on them.
  • Twenty years ago, who could've imagined all these amazing, portable smart devices we all take for granted? This guy.
  • If you've somehow managed not to see your work life reflected in a Dilbert comic, that streak may end today.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, Features Writer.


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