My reading of "Data Cartels" written by Sarah Lamdan has been, I'm sorry to say, a painful six months in the making, even for an avid reader like me who reads the books laden on the coffee table in my doctor's office. This thought-provoking book dives deep into the world of data monopolies and the dangers they pose to our society. The author manages to recreate a modern-day witch hunt targeting large conglomerates (RELX, Thomson Reuters, and Bloomberg) that she condemns for collecting troves of information with some nefarious purpose.
Lamdan argues that the concentration of data power into a few hands leads to the creation of data cartels. These cartels are monopolizing access to data and controlling the infrastructure through which the data is transmitted and processed.
The author takes a critical look at the impact of these data cartels on our society, including the potential for increased inequality, the erosion of privacy, and the stifling of innovation. Lamdan argues that these cartels have the power to shape the future of society and that we must take action to prevent their dominance.
The book provides an analysis of the data economy based on the back of a few in the industry. Lamdan examines the role of some tech companies, governments, and the general public in this ecosystem. She presents a clear and concise overview of the current state of the data economy and the challenges we face in ensuring fair and equitable access to data.
One of the things I was disappointed about in this book is that Lamdan focused most of her work on criticizing large corporations and should have offered a sustainable solution to the problem at hand instead of a few ideas. Lamdan needs to realize that the aggregation of data, algorithms and SQL statements aren't amassed or created to be discriminatory.
In my line of work, where would the retail industry be without the data collected by Computer-Generated Ordering (CGO) and Point of Sales Systems (POS)? Or, my favourite, the data that continues to fuel the performance of eCommerce platforms in serving retail customers? Collecting and interpreting data is in the interest of retailers and consumers alike. Extracting answers to questions about customer preferences can be tricky, but it should not be viewed with suspicion. Rather, retailers looking to model customer profiles using various data sources are working with a singular purpose: to provide an exchange of personalized value that ultimately benefits consumers.
In summary, "Data Cartel" is a drooping eye book that tries to address the growing concentration of data power in the hands of a few, wrapped in a modern-day bore. I don't recommend this book to anyone interested in the future of technology and society.