I am writing a blog on the rise of "ratings" in our daily lives. It will jump off on the idea of NoseDive which is an episode of black mirror - https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/10/black-mirror-nosedive-review-season-three-netflix/504668/. I looking for a summary of all the "numbers" that are used to track us. Here is an article to give you a good jumping point: https://www.wired.com/story/age-of-social-credit/?mbid=social_twitter_onsiteshare - as well as -
Big data and social media metrics have the potential to play an important role in how people are rated. There are formal ratings (like credit scores) and really informal—almost socially scoffed at—ratings from social media posts and followers like number of friends or number of likes per post. However, as technologies improve that allow big data a breadth unprecedented in earlier times, and as artificial intelligence dynamics allow the pooling and disbursements of data down multiple avenues, our world opens up to many possibilities for tracking behaviors, purchases, bill payments, travel, job performance, and buyer preferences. This response summarizes the “numbers” that are used to track us.
CREDIT SCORE & BILL PAYMENTS
The Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) provides credit scores that are reported to credit bureaus (e.g., Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) which allow lenders to determine consumer credit risk. Over 90% of top lenders use FICO scores. Higher FICO scores typically mean less financial risk for lenders. The scores are a compilation of information found in credit reports that include “the number of credit accounts, how many times lenders have requested information, and how many times lenders have turned accounts over to collection agencies (i.e., delinquent bill payments).”
The FICO score turns bill payments, credit card totals, and delinquent accounts into credit risk analyses. Other financially-focused numbers that could apply ratings include money management apps like Mint, which collects personal contact data, contact information for all billing entities, and all info on financial matters (e.g., credit card balances, utility bills, mortgage payments, savings, bank accounts, etc.).
SOCIAL MEDIA BEHAVIORS
Major sociological and social-psychology theories point to various aspects of human behavior that may have led to the success of various social media platforms. A review of social media’s development reveals that people use these platforms to connect, build relationships, and stay in touch. However, where social media meets sociology provides some interesting dynamics that are most readily expressed by numbers, rather than a qualitative and in-person exchanges of ideas and information. Similar to the developments that played out in “Nosedive,” social media can be a place to connect to loved ones and make new friends but it can also be a place where these socially-observed numbers wreak havoc on self-esteem and encourage validation-seeking behaviors and bullying.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are all very popular social media platforms. Facebook, alone, has more than 1.65 million active users; while Twitter averages 310 million, Instagram averages 400 million, SnapChat averages 100 million, and YouTube has approximately 1.3 billion users worldwide. While these numbers speak to the use of social media, it should be noted that each platform collects data on personal contact details (e.g., cell phone numbers, city/state location, and email addresses), birth dates, friends’ names and information, relationship details (e.g., whether single, married, divorced, etc.), and personal photos and videos.
PURCHASES & PREFERENCES
Companies today have the ability to capture and track much more information about their customers than ever before. In-store purchases, loyalty card transactions, and online shopping allow automatic data collection on inventory, price-points, and customer contact details, as well as “what else a customer looked at, how long they spent on the site, how long they spent on each page, and how spending is affected by different promotions.” Companies, like Salesforce, use customer relationship management (CRM) technologies to “improve business relationships” and help businesses “identify sales opportunities, record service issues, and manage marketing campaigns.”
Google developers, through Google Analytics, are in the business of creating trackers. These internet objects “collect and store data and then send that data to Google Analytics.” The type of data collected includes internet browsing details like page titles, URLs, viewing devices, viewport size, and document characteristics.
TRAVEL & LOCATION
The benefits of travel tracking depend on whether one is the travel-related company or consumer. For instance, many of the airlines had a history of tracking customer data so that they could adjust (i.e., raise) prices for the company’s gain. However, industrious consumers turned that benefit around by using the same data to help others identify the best times to book flights for more affordable fares. In terms of travel and location tracking, these sorts of activities are just the tip of the iceberg of numbers potentially used for ratings.
Location trackers use GPS specifics (i.e., longitude/latitude coordinates) to help parents track their children and assure parents of their child’s safety or need for help. Location trackers not only help parents find/track their children, but consumers also use them to track their stuff (e.g., smartphones, laptops, and tablets). These GPS locations might not be readily compilable numbers but these numbers do (if rated or shared) provide for an honesty-check and status confirmations. Waze, a popular navigation app, collects and disseminates traffic information, driver locations, and parking spots. The popular app also sets events and “talks to” social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are not only changing purchases, travel, and social media dynamics, they are also changing the ways we work. Forbes predicts that with the increasing use of chatbots in general, our working worlds will also include them to do things like find jobs, answer HR-related questions, digitize HR processes, and provide work-related coaching and advice. However, AI doesn’t just make the use of chatbots efficient and possible, but it also will allow for the analyzation of large amounts of old and new data. For instance, there are huge stores of data that HR can turn into numbers used for ratings these include subjective ratings found in annual reviews (e.g., 360-degree performance evaluations), job title objectives (e.g., number of sales completed), number of errors made by an employee, time spent away, and much more.
LinkedIn, a popular app for job-seekers and recruiters, add to these metrics by collecting and storing users job histories, applications, companies/people followed, network connections, search appearances, skills, interests, and professional endorsements. The popular work-related social media site, which has 500 million users, is known by recruiters for its great collection of professional data.
Likewise, popular review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Amazon have the ability to collect and share personal contact details, purchase inventories, and consumer opinions. In fact, online reviews have skyrocketed in popularity in terms of becoming more important than word-of-mouth for consumer buying decision-making as a recent Pew Research report showed that “82% of U.S. adults say they read customer reviews before making a purchase, and 40% say they ‘almost always’ check reviews.”
HEALTH AND FITNESS
Fitness wearables and connected medical devices are big business. Approximately 274 million fitness wearables were sold in 2016 and connected medical devices are presumed to help insurance companies and other stakeholders turn the tides on rising healthcare costs. As health data is compiled and tracked, its benefits are clearly improved health. Less positive, and slightly sinister purposes, include denial of health benefits and increases in health insurance premiums. Still, health apps collect data on the number of steps taken, time spent at certain heart rates, and time spent sleeping. Connected medical technologies offer acutely tangible benefits for users health. For instance, iRhythm produces a device for monitoring and analyzing cardiac activities of heart patients and diabetic monitoring devices allow glucose levels to be tracked, recorded, and shared with medical teams.
The benefits of tracking and rating analytics have many different angles, and depends on whether one is the tracking/rating company or the person being tracked and/or rated. The technologies that make these numbers reliable and important are continuing to emerge. But, without a doubt, these numbers are of great interest to consumers, marketers, and enterprises, alike. Our world is likely to continue to be filled with data, and its resulting numbers allow us to rate and rank our health, purchases, job performances, locations, credit scores, and friendships.