A readable guide for the non–IT set.



A pleasing excursion into the daunting terrain of computer-driven information.

British comedian and writer Harkness debuts with an anecdote-laden account of our propensity for making a data set out of anything that can be turned into numbers. “Routinely collected, stored, shared, linked together and analysed,” big data, writes the author, are now used to monitor diseases, predict crime, shape our elections, surveil our private moments, and track our purchases at supermarket checkouts—an extraordinary reach for a term coined in 2006. With a focus on how this enormous information-gathering has affected each major area of our lives, Harkness visited experts in places from Brooklyn to Silicon Valley and engaged in lucid conversations about numbers-crunching, from early recording-keeping (death and census data) to Alan Turing’s use of mechanized reasoning to break secret World War II codes to our present widespread use of big data in business, science, politics, and other realms. “Basically any interaction between man and machine, or machine and machine, these days is being logged,” one researcher told her. The author confesses her appreciation of big data’s benefits—its ability, for example, to trace links between behavior, environment, and health outcomes—but also her wariness of its growing intrusiveness. “Our most personal information, our private exchanges, our network of friends, are used by others without our consent,” she writes. Since the invention of the filing cabinet, governments have tried to run society by watching data, warned a privacy advocate: “If only we had more data we could control things better!” Harkness’ style is light and conversational, but she makes clear her serious concerns about a society in which it is now possible to predict the likelihood of a person’s future involvement in homicide or other serious crime based on the police records of friends and acquaintances. “I’m not a data point, I am a human being,” she writes. “And so are you.”

A readable guide for the non–IT set.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4729-2005-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury Sigma

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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