Privacy is one of those things that we take for granted. We deem it to be a right, something that cannot just be taken away from us without cause. Though if you have listened to my podcast you know privacy is an illusion and that people unknowingly play a part in allowing companies access to their online information. This disruption of privacy is called web usage mining.
Maysoon Aldekhail discusses it at length in her article, which will be appearing in the upcoming publication of Vol. 8, No. 1 of the International Journal of Computer Theory and Engineering, titled *Application and Significance of Web Usage Mining in the 21st Century: A Literature Review*. “It focuses on techniques that have the potential to predict user behaviour while the user interacts with the Web.”(41) Though this technique can be seen as a negative issue in society, but it can also be rather beneficial to us.
In an interview with web developer Joshua Clarke, we discussed just why web usage mining is beneficial to your average person. He said “We don’t know what we want, we have to be told what we want. If we knew what we wanted we wouldn’t go to the store for longer than we needed to get what we wanted.” To sum it up we as humans are indecisive creatures, who do not always know we want even when we think we do.
Having an algorithm calculate and sort through our online habits proves helpful in an increasingly busy society. It means we receive recommendations on things relevant things to our individual lifestyles: be it services, businesses, activities, videos, merchandise, etc.
This in turn can also personalize your online experience, “Web usage mining … can be applied to personalize websites, depending on user profile and behaviour….[it] aims to obtain information that supports website design to allow easier and faster access on the part of customers.” (Aldekhail 45). As it more accurately predicts our behavior it will allow us to spend less time outside looking for things we want and need. Thus allowing us more time to spend doing things we would prefer to be doing.
It does not mean that this method will always be completely correct, for humans are complex creatures with contradicting characteristics. Statistics do not always show the bigger picture as can be seen for Joel Stein a writer for Time Magazine, in his article *Data Mining: How Companies Now Know Everything About You.* “Google's Ads Preferences believes I'm a guy interested in politics, Asian food, perfume, celebrity gossip, animated movies and crime but who doesn't care about "books & literature" or "people & society." (So not true.)”
Even though it is not a perfect system it is a working and growing system. That could prove increasingly beneficial to our bustling society. The question is: are you willing to give up your privacy for convenience?
Aldekhail, Maysoon. “Application and Significance of Web Usage Mining in the 21st Century: A Literature Review.” *International Journal of Computer Theory and Engineering* Volume 8. Issue 1 (2016): 41-47. Print.
Stein, Joel. “Data Mining: How Companies Now Know Everything About You.” Time. Time inc. 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 17 Oct. 2015