Persuading David Simon [Link]

June 19, 2013 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

That Maciej guy is super smart and very reasonable. This is how I want to argue on the internet.

But Simon is not a fogey who doesn't understand how powerful computers have become (though I feel that there are such people in positions of oversight in the House and Senate). I believe his error is in assuming that the analysis of these 'computer-runs' is any kind of bottleneck. There are powerful techniques for surfacing interesting features in any comprehensive list of interactions between human beings. I've written in the past about my distaste for the 'social graph' and the perverse worldview it imposes on our projects, but part of the appeal of that worldview is the real power of mathematics applied to exactly this kind of data. The analysis can be automated, and no good comes of it.

Regardless of your opinions or interests, this is perhaps one of the most well reasoned opinions about data collection I've read.