Christian Rudder – Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)


Crown, ISBN: 9780385347372, English, 304 pages, 2014, USA

Investigative journalism that draws on statistical analysis is often intriguing for its ability, when properly applied, to unveil ‘facts’ and, even more, ‘mechanisms’ which seem hidden in reality, and, generally speaking, provide a view on the “big picture” of what is being analysed. So what if everybody could properly use “big data” in this respect, accessing usable strategic tools for any purpose? It’d probably change quite a few business games and power relationships. This book gives a nice preview of what big data could be. The author is a co-founder of the dating web site OkCupid, which gathers a lot of data, later used in his companion OkTrends blog. In Dataclysm, the author is systematising OkTrends’ blog posts through a more general overview, documenting some basic dynamics of what we reveal in such social and dating-related contexts. Empirical and captivating maps, graphs, and charts enrich this analysis. Even if his “mathematical narrative” is sometimes just abstractly voyeuristic, the embedded thrill of “discovering” and the new scenarios that the book depicts are definitely attractive, although not necessarily revolutionary. The prose is ironic and politically correct, and this book has already proved to be a popular text. It might also be a significant one for showing, entertainingly and pragmatically, what can be done with all the data we produce, possibly finding new sense in the global attitude of self-abusing privacy.


Christian Rudder: “Dataclysm” | Talks at Google