Photography-Inspire- Crumbs and Carrots!

Its that time of day when I put a few thoughts together and the above is meant to inspire you.

This time of year however there is an annual phenomenon which we all recall from our childhoods.  It results in a human swarm- This the pattern where the local population all goes and does the same thing in large numbers.  I was impressed by the Channel 4 programme entitled The Human Swarm which showed how we all tend to do the same at the same time.

Here is a perfect example

So this is the Christmas swarm – think all that dashing to the shops and the seasonal dishes-  which we must have and the decorations.

What we do not look at is how all that generates significant amounts of data which details our every move.

Today I went to the shops and

  •  parked the car entering the number plate and paying the fee by bank card.
  • then bought a few items for the Christmas tree from the local hardware store and again paid contact less from my bank account.
  • I collect the newspaper and handed in my subscription coupon.
  • Went for a coffee and handed them my loyalty card.
  • Surprised to see almost before I had started drinking that they had emailed me suggesting a further cup of coffee later in the day.  IMG_4251[1]

All common and innocent activities.  However with just those few actions my movement around the shops are easy to trace.

Another instance was that at the sink and saw the following


Looking a little wider I saw IMG_4359[1]

And finally the story was clear- IMG_4360[1]

Although it did not fully explain why there were cereal remnants in the sink.

It being December you might see the following data trail.

Yes its an ever expanding view of our Christmas tree.  So when you see the following

Which are the traditional gifts left out for Father Christmas and his reindeer.  You instinctively know that:-

His reindeer like carrots, He will eat broccoli but overall it seems that he would prefer the mince pie.

And because he manages to eat all of these things whilst whizzing from house to house on Christmas eve that he needs a lot of calories and is a fast eater.

(Is that instinct or proven facts!?)

So why I am I mentioning in the context of the trails of data we leave.  If you have not yet left your list of books for Santa to bring then I suggest that you include

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O Neil.


One particular chapter is of particular relevance to the story of Santa.  It covers Insurance and as Santa has such a lifestyle he would be a particular case for getting cover.  (For accidents if not health- imaging all those chimneys he climbs and in the dark at that).  She discusses how more data about our health, exercise and sleep patterns, diet and genetic make up are being used to assess what our insurance costs will be.

Although the NHS does not currently work on an insurance basis, they have already worked out Personal Indicative Healthcare budgets.  It is therefore quite a small step from offering the running of such budgets as a potential for private companies to discuss/provide.  “After all everything is on the table ”

The book shows clearly how these data gathering algorithms come to potentially discriminatory conclusions yet because of their opaqueness are hard to challenge.

So to sum up think about what data you share- knowingly and unknowingly.  It might be to your detriment.

Santa Claus must exist because of the carrots, broccoli and mince pies he eats.

If we really want to get on his good side we must not forget the glass of sherry.  He does seem to get around  the drink drive laws-perhaps because he does not travel that far!

Useful links-

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