You might think an “advanced search” option would satisfy those needing to mine for data, however it falls short of the concept. Data mining is not just pulling data, or searching for one article lost in a gigantic database; it aims to identify and understand patterns within the drawn out data. As a 20 year-old college student, I think, “How can this apply to me?” and then I realize we are the digital age. My ability to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and the various Google Drive functions are actually listed on my résumé. Companies even encourage business students to have a positive, appropriate social media presence. I am a piece of data in everything I do online, it just may not have been collected as such yet. With each passing day, more and more information about people’s lives and current events is added to the gigantic base of information that is social media.
Three students at the University of South Carolina, Abhishanga Upadhyay, Luis Mao, and Malavika Goda Krishna put together a beginners guide to data mining on Twitter, which can be referenced at: http://www-scf.usc.edu/~aupadhya/Mining.pdf. In their detailed description, it is clear that this information and the ability to data mine is as easily accessible as ever. Additionally, a group of students at UCLA worked with Dr. Dave Shepard to analyze the reactions on Twitter to particular natural disasters. They aimed to understand implications this mining could have in the creation of future computer algorithms that reflect human understanding and emotion. The abstract of this can be referenced at: http://www.cdh.ucla.edu/projects/tweet-reader/.
These are just two examples of how data mining has been used, but even the TV show Parks and Rec, with Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari, jokes about the potential invasion-of-privacy issues that will follow the advancement of data mining and its combination with marketing tactics. As people tend to swipe through user agreements and privacy settings, in addition to being one in billions of pieces of data on the internet, recognizing the true public nature of our online posts can come as a shock.
Unlike Parks and Rec shows, data mining can actually lend such a helpful hand to all aspects of data analytics, which actually is a very important base to effective marketing strategy. A limitation does exist with private social media accounts, but some people may be uncomfortable with their posts being openly available in a database, which is perfectly okay. I do think it would be interesting to see if there were demographic trends among those who keep their accounts private and public, or if there are specific platforms in which people tend to be private more than public and vice versa. Ultimately, conflict and breakthroughs will come as data mining becomes a larger part of corporate strategy, but the largest burden could be that some day soon we may actually have to start reading user agreements.