Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace

Optipulse Pt. 2

Last time, we talked a bit about Mathis Shinnick and his latest company OptiPulse. We focused mostly on how the company’s new Near InfraRed (NIR) technology is being developed and how it will change the world of digital high speed communication when it is brought to market. Today, we are going to talk more about where Mathis would like to see the company and its technology and the kinds of investors who are helping make the vision a reality. 

One of the most refreshing things about the company is the many grassroots investors that have helped get OptiPulse off the ground. Using an independent funding website called WeFunder (think of it as a Kickstarter analog for investors) has allowed people to get involved for as little as $100. Not only does this help decentralize the typical investing model of looking for a handful of high rollers, it can also help gauge what the demand for the product will be. If you have a lot of people investing for that minimum amount, it shows that there is a desire for what OptiPulse is offering. Even better, Mathis points out that the comments from these investors reflect something more than just a desire to get a return on their investment. The most frequent comment is that these people are eager to get OptiPulse into their own communities. These early adopters are able to see the potential being offered that will help get their own out of the way corners of the world better connected.

There are other uses for the technology as well. The line of sight NIR sensors have potential use for the self-driving cars that are getting close to hitting the market. Given the low cost, small size and low power consumption of the sensors it would be easy to have roads lined with sensors that communicate with other sensors in the car. Not only would this keep the car on the road, it would also let the car know when something was between it and the road. If another car, a bike, a dog, should step into the road and break the signal between the sensors, the car will instantly know it. If the road sensors are arranged correctly, they could even communicate with each other to let the vehicle’s computer know of hazards that are up ahead, or a fast approaching car on a side street, giving the car the ability to see beyond the line of sight. And again, given the low power consumption of OptiPulse’s NIR sensors and emitters it would be possible to power large numbers of them with a couple of solar panels. 

The same technology can also be implemented for tracking information at remote installations such as oil and natural gas pipelines. A network of arrays could be used to transmit data constantly to service centers without the need of cables. Or, one could go with fewer arrays and fly a drone over the line to collect data and then transmit it back to the service centers. Again, no need for cables that need to get repaired whenever a squirrel decides to take a bite (yes, that happens).

As Mathis pointed out last time, it isn’t necessary that OptiPulse completely replace existing infrastructure either. Because of the vast amounts of bandwidth available in the near infrared part of the spectrum, OptiPulse can accommodate existing 4G and 5G technology and actually boost the performance of those devices.

With all of this potential, it is little wonder that OptiPulse has been able to attract a large number of investors eager to see the product brought to market. We’ll be waiting eagerly as Mathis and the others at OptiPulse work to bring their vision of a better connected world to life.

What’s your data worth?

OptiPulse

Mathis Shinnick has been working with startups and investors for years. Most recently, he co-founded OptiPulse. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico OptiPulse is working to revolutionize digital communications. They are developing Near Infra-Red technology that tests show are capable of data transmission speeds that leave 5G and even the much lauded Starlink in the dust. How fast? How about 10GB/sec? The potential is actually much greater but that is all current off-the-shelf electronics can handle. 

Just as exciting as the speed, is the range that it allows. Photons towards the infrared part of the spectrum have a longer wavelength than radio or microwaves. Normally, that limits the range as longer, lower energy wavelengths can get obscured in the atmosphere. OptiPulse has patented technology that can focus the energy much more like a laser, giving it much greater range. If you are wondering how great the range is, it can send a beam to space with the kind of bandwidth mentioned above. Also, if you caught the part about low energy, that means you don’t need nearly as much power to operate the system, making it cheaper and greener to use. 

That increased range plus lower cost will make OptiPulse the perfect choice for bringing broadband communications to out of the way areas. Well placed towers could provide communication for places that are difficult to reach with any kind of cable. Right away, that makes the OptiPulse system an obviously better alternative than fiber optics or any other option that relies on a hard and continuous infrastructure system. Naturally, this saves considerably on construction costs. There will still be costs of course. The detectors are line of sight, requiring the detectors to be in view of each other. While that means that a number of collectors and emitters are necessary, it also means that the data is more secure since it is harder to intercept a direct beam than something diffused over a wide area.

Another interesting benefit of this developing technology, Mathis points out, is that since it uses light to transmit information, it operates outside of any regulated space. OptiPulse therefore isn’t competing with all the cell towers and Starlink that are operating in the radio band. Those other means of communication have to deal with interference from other signals, signals that require devices to filter out the noise that results from the interference. Again, lower cost than other alternatives. 

Mathis also says Optipulse will be easier to update. Since it is a modular system based around towers, towers that are accessible compared to cables in the ground or satellites in space, changing out hardware would be just a drive from the nearest service hub away. Therefore, as the communications technology develops, OptiPulse will be able to keep up with it much easier than anything else on the market or close to the market. 

Yet, OptiPulse need not completely take over either. It could actually work with existing fiber optic technology. Remember, fiber optic is just using light to transmit information through a glass tube in the ground. Existing cable could be mated to an OptiPulse tower to extend the range of the network rather than having to incur the expense of laying new cable.  

Where are things going in the future? The shift to online work that occurred as a result of Covid has brought a lot of awareness to the need for better connectivity, and to the fact that 5G isn’t delivering on its promise. Even in the relatively few places where it has been implemented, it is underperforming. That has helped OptiPulse attract a number of investors to help bring the company to the next phase, bringing the next phase of connectivity closer to you.

What’s your data worth?

Algae Goes Moo

Guess what, the Earth is only so big. Yes, it is big but it still has a finite size. That means there is only so much room for people and the resources necessary to support them. How much? There is a lot of disagreement on that but in principle, there is only so much space so there is definitely a limit. Which means it makes sense to spend time thinking about how we can make the best use of the resources we have until someone figures out how to efficiently terraform Mars.

One of the many resources we have that does have limited space is farmland. We’ve frankly done a great job in the last hundred years of figuring out how to get more and more out of less. Unfortunately, that has in part been through the use of growth hormones, fertilizers, and pesticides. While that has allowed us to get more food out of less land it has also had downstream effects on the environment that have been less than desirable. Yet, we don’t want people to starve. So, what do we do?

One of the biggest consumers of farmland isn’t actually people but cattle. There is a ton of farmland used to grow food for cattle. Combine that with what we use for people and then factor in the fact there is only so much fertile land to be used and it doesn’t take a genius to see that eventually we will run out. For one, there is the fact that there are only so many nutrients in the soil and if we don’t give farmland a break, it will eventually run out of them. That’s part of how the USA rose in power so quickly, it had farmland that was virtually untapped, allowing people there to grow more crops that were larger and more nutrient dense than what was possible in Europe where people had already been farming for centuries. Many cultures have understood this, which is why they developed the concept of crop rotation. Different crops use different nutrients so switching crops lets the soil build up the ones not currently being used. It’s also why the Mosaic Law directed the ancient Hebrews to periodically allow their fields to lie fallow. It gave time for plants and bugs to decay, animals to poop, and bugs to till the soil and rejuvenate it. 

Now though, it is very hard to turn back to that system of farming, maybe impossible. Again, what do we do? One possible solution lies in another problem that we’ve created. Ironically, one that has been exacerbated by industrial farming – algae. 

While fertilizers have contributed to algae blooms in the coastal areas of our oceans which have in turn darkened those oceans and could lead to disruptions of our ecosystems on that end (a subject we’ve gone more in depth on elsewhere), that very algae has a lot of nutrients. Nutrients that could be of use if we harvested more of them and used them to feed both people and cattle. Why not just people? Let’s be honest, Travolta was right in Pulp Fiction, “bacon is good”. And where would Sammy J be without his royale with cheese? People aren’t going to stop eating meat en masse no matter how much some might want that to happen. So it makes sense to find a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way to feed the cattle and so feed the people. Why not make use of this abundant resource and in so doing help solve another problem that we’ve inadvertently created? 

For the record, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to pursue reforms to industrial farming. Those are sorely needed. Yet, it is this kind of outside the box thinking that will allow people to live in a way that is both sustainable and comfortable. TARTLE strives to promote and stimulate that kind of creative problem solving by encouraging people to share and donate their data with research organizations. That will help them pursue solutions to our most pressing problems with the best data available – yours.

What’s your data worth?

Talk Python to Me

Looks like we are on a bit of a roll with interviews over at TARTLE HQ. Recently, Alex and Jason had the chance to sit and talk with Michael Kennedy, founder of the Talk Python to Me podcast. If you are unfamiliar with it, Python is a programming language that is relatively easy to learn well enough for regular people to be able to do some cool things with it. Michael realized this years ago and started looking around for a podcast to tell the stories of people who learn to adapt Python to whatever field they are in to help answer some genuinely interesting questions. Unfortunately, back in 2015 no one was really doing that yet, so he had to start his own. Talk Python to Me is the result. Since then, Michael has been able to interview a wide variety of programmers and gotten some real insight into how to help people get more into the world of programming and data science. 

One of the big effects of the rise of the Python programming language is the democratization of both coding and of data science. Because it is so easy to gain a working knowledge of, a vast number of people, from philosophers to economists have been able to use it to help in their given fields. Kennedy has noticed that many people who don’t consider themselves coders or software developers are making use of this language. It may be that Python’s greatest accomplishment that people who would normally never get into coding are making effective use of it. 

Another insight that Michael talks about is that while educating people on the possibilities of both data science and coding it would be more to the point to say it comes down to inspiration. That is contrary to what the prevailing opinion was ten years ago. Back then, people were complaining that there weren’t nearly enough data scientists and we need to try to convince all kinds to be data scientists. However, that wasn’t working. They didn’t understand it and it just wasn’t interesting to them.

So, what does it mean to talk about inspiration instead of education? It means that instead of telling people how important things are, we need to actually show them. Demonstrate what data science can do and let people actually play around with it a bit instead of just cramming people’s heads full of information.

Also, don’t just shove data science down people’s throats. Instead, show them how it can benefit what they are already passionate about. If a high school student is passionate about volcanoes, show him how Python can help him better predict eruptions. If another is interested in tracing the evolution of language, show her how the programming language can be of use in showing how one language evolves into another. Doing that makes the concept of data science not just real, but interesting.

It isn’t just the sciences that benefit either. Guests on Michal’s podcast have included members of F1 and NASCAR racing teams. They’ve found that in switching to Python from Excel they’ve gained an edge on the race track.

Pointing out things like that makes it easier and more enticing to people to learn Python. Suddenly, they are able to really get into their own source data, maybe for the first time. That lets people save both time and money by avoiding third parties altogether. They no longer have to pay for some other service to analyze the data they’ve collected, or spend time sifting through reports on data someone else has collected. Now, a person can actually gather their own data and maintain control of it from beginning to end. Saving time and money while putting people in control of their own data? That’s something TARTLE can get behind.

What’s your data worth?

Interview with Shumin Luan

You know what we like at TARTLE? We like talking to cool and intelligent people who are doing cool and intelligent things out there in the world. Especially if they are doing those cool and intelligent things with data. That happens to be the case with Shumin Luan, a budding young data scientist at Boston College whom Alex and Jason recently had the chance to interview for TARTLEcast. During the conversation Shumin revealed that he has always been interested in data and the way it impacts people’s lives.

Even going back to when he was very young, he had a fascination with the world of finance. He saw how data was needed to properly operate in that world. Without it, investors might as well make their decisions by throwing darts at a board. However, that isn’t what got him thinking of moving more formally into the realm of data science. 

That part of Shumin’s journey began when he was working in Dubai, UAE (United Arab Emirates) as an analyst in sales and logistics. While working in that role, he was able to see how data science could help make the company he was working for more efficient and aid in making better decisions. One of the areas that the data scientist saw for improvement came from the shipping division. Shumin was able to identify that there was a lot of inefficiency in the loading dock and shipping warehouse.

The warehouse was not organized to quickly bring orders up the front in the best of conditions. Throw in a rush or any sort of computer problem and operations could be significantly disrupted. Here, the truckers picking up the products represented a golden opportunity. That inefficiency in bringing product up from where it is located in the warehouse to trucks means that the truck drivers spent an inordinate amount of time just sitting around doing nothing. What’s more, the drivers are paid by the hour. The results have been a lot of time and money saved as new efficiencies have been put in place. How did a young data scientist manage to increase the efficiency of a major company operating out of one of the busiest places in the world?

One of the most important things that he did was to comb through the data and find that certain products were more likely to be sold and shipped together than others. Shumin simply recommended storing such items together and in a way that was readily accessible. That meant there was less time spent waiting around for the truck drivers and fewer stops had to be made since the biggest sellers were going together on the same truck from the same warehouse. Otherwise, one truck driver might have been making multiple stops just to fill up his truck. Now, everything could be efficiently stored in one or two warehouses so the drivers could get on the road to delivering products to the customers much more quickly. That means happier customers because they get their products faster and a more profitable company because they aren’t paying people to sit in trucks. It also has an environmental benefit in that with fewer trips getting made, there are fewer greenhouse gas emissions to be concerned with. 

Shumin also briefly touched on one of the biggest challenges confronting data scientists today – the sheer amount of data available. One of the most important things such people have to do is sift through the mountains of information out there to find the valuable data that is needed in order to conduct a meaningful analysis. The good data is definitely out there, it just takes patience and skill to find it. 

That’s where TARTLE comes in. Through our data marketplace we make it possible for researchers like Shumin to find the best data of all, data that comes right from the source. Instead of trying to sift through tons of third party data, we get right to the gold they are looking for, enabling them to make better and faster decisions.

What’s your data worth?

Bio Data

People keep using science to expand our horizons. From the automobile, to penicillin, to Mars landers, we’ve used science to develop some cool stuff. We’ve even spoken in this space about quantum computing. Now, what if I told you we can store data in bacteria? No joke, it turns out we can. This concept was explored recently by scientists studying E. coli.

These bacteria produce a good deal of plasma. It turns this can be altered by adjusting the electrical current going through this plasma. The current has a binary pattern to it and what the current does is not just cause the E. coli to produce more plasma, it also imprints its pattern on the cells themselves. Scientists did this with CRISPR arrays, originally developed as part of the Human Genome Project when the millennium was young. If you are wondering what these scientists encoded on the bacteria, it was something pretty simple, the phrase ‘Hello, world’. That may not seem like a whole lot but every major development starts with a simple experiment. Remember, ENIAC, the first computer, was big enough to fill a large room. Now a handheld device contains many times the computing power of that behemoth.  

Research in this field has been going on for years, driven by predictions that our ability to store data will soon be exceeded by the amount of data we are generating in the near future. Recognizing that there is a massive amount of data stored in a DNA strand, scientists have been working to see if it could be altered to store data. This new study from Columbia University represents the latest development in the process of learning to make organic computers. While we aren’t there yet, Columbia researchers show that electricity could be a vital component in turning bacteria into hard drives. One of the most exciting aspects of this research is that it looks like the bacteria can actually pass on its data to offspring. That means two things. One, it should be possible to duplicate entire drives worth of data by just growing it. Two, it means that data could be stored virtually indefinitely as it is passed down through multiple generations of bacteria. 

The implications of this developing technology are staggering. There is the possibility of growing storage devices that are incredibly small with insane levels of capacity yet run on a minimum of electricity and could also have back-ups stored in a literal petri dish. This could open up more third world countries to technology, making it possible to make use of cutting edge technology in areas of the world where there is no infrastructure. 

And just for fun, let your imagination run wild for a minute. Remember The Matrix and the way they could download any information they needed into their brains in a few moments? What if that were actually possible? What if we could find a way to store all the accumulated knowledge of humanity in our brains and access it whenever we want? Yes, that’s pretty out there but…what if? Sure, it would be prohibitively expensive for all but a few. At least at first. Technology has a way of becoming more widely available at a cheaper price over time. Think about flat screen TVs. When they first came out, they were north of $5000. Now you can pick one up for $500 that has better resolution, is twice the size, and streams content straight from the internet. There is every reason to think that the kind of biotech being imagined will follow a similar path. 

How can you help make that happen? One of the many kinds of data that you can choose to share through TARTLE and our data marketplace is your genome. By sharing that with researchers at universities and businesses you can provide them with the information they need to build the technology that will take the next step in making the impossible not just real, but common. 

What’s your data worth?

Everything is moving to the cloud. We hear this all the time. Especially since more people than ever are currently working from home and ordering things online thanks to the various responses to COVID. All of that online activity has been generating piles and piles of data, so much so that data storage companies have had to scramble to deal with it. Thus, new data centers, located in massive but otherwise innocuous buildings full of server stacks are springing up. 

There are a lot of interesting and counterintuitive aspects to this trend. One is that our increasingly digital lives are causing a small boom in brick and mortar construction. Because of the obvious need for extensive electrical and HVAC capabilities these data centers can’t be easily installed in a refurbished warehouse or old office building. They often need a brand new building to be able to handle all the unique demands of a modern data center. This creates construction jobs and a few others in security and IT to keep the servers working. 

Another unusual aspect to consider is the fact that the cloud isn’t really a cloud. Sure, when you upload a document to the cloud, it is easy to share with others and access from anywhere with an internet connection. However, that document is still stored in a specific physical location. In a way, the cloud as it currently exists is actually more centralized than ever. Stay with me on this. Before everything was getting put on the cloud, your information was typically kept just in your hard drive and the drive of anyone you shared it with. That is pretty siloed and keeps it out of the hands of people who might benefit from access to it. Yet, data as a whole was more spread out, over several different drives in multiple buildings, each possibly with its own servers.

This made it more difficult to share but also to hack the data. A single accident like a power surge was unlikely to wipe out vast swaths of data. Now, with the cloud and increasing amounts of data stored in these massive server farms it is in faact easier to hack, or be lost due to happenstance. How should we deal with this situation? What alternatives are there since it is unlikely we’ll be going back to the old model. After all, the cloud model has provided numerous advantages in cost savings and data sharing efficiency. For now at least, it seems we need those massive centers full of server stacks. Yet, this is merely a temporary fix, a band aid. 

The question then remains, what is a better solution for this situation? The answer lies in the continued drive to decentralization. If cloud computing arose from a need to decentralize work, the solution to how to best handle all that data should lie in the same direction. While the details still need to be worked out, solutions that make use of blockchain technology are the most likely. These would make use of this cryptocurrency technology to harness the storage and computing power of devices large and small across the planet. Imagine if millions worldwide signed up to a system that would dedicate a portion of the storage and computing capacity of their smartphones and laptops to cloud computing. Each one functions as a node in a massive network.

These kinds of systems already exist. The oldest of note is SETI which began allowing people to hook up their computers to the SETI data network over a decade ago. These computers process data from SETI during what would otherwise be downtime, allowing that data to be processed much more quickly and efficiently than if it was just waiting for time at centralized supercomputers. The same method has been used in other capacities such as decoding genomes. So, why not apply the same principle to cloud computing generally? 

This is exactly in line with TARTLE’s vision. We’re trying to help build a world in which data is not controlled by the few but by the many, by the people who create it in the first place. It’s just one part in the decentralization movement, a movement that aims to put people back in control of their own data and lives.

What’s your data worth?

Data Among the Stars

We spend a lot of time here talking about how TARTLE can help advance a variety of fields through our data marketplace. Whether it’s medical science, tracking the effects of human activity on the climate, or even fields focused on the past like archeology, TARTLE can be of use. Through the sharing of information, both with colleagues and laymen who might have valuable data new advances in understanding can be made, advances that may not happen for years otherwise, if at all. 

Today, we turn our gaze to the stars and the field of astronomy, specifically star formation. It’s long been understood that an individual star forms from the slow accretion of gasses into a ball large enough that the pressures and heat generated by its own gravitational force begin a self-sustaining fusion reaction that will go on for billions of years. However, a number of questions remain. Why do some clouds only produce relatively small stars like our own sun while others birth massive giants like Betelgeuse and Rigel in the constellation Orion? Yet others lead to failed stars such as elusive brown dwarfs. Then there is the strange fact that planets form around many of them. Why did they not become part of the star in the center of the system?

Other questions such as why the gas clouds get converted into stars at different rates in different galaxies? Most seem to convert the bulk of their gases into stars in one to ten billion years. Yet others seem to be in a hurry. These starburst galaxies can deplete most of their gas reserves and be filled with stars in under a billion years. Why? 

None of that challenges the primary model of stars forming out of massive gas clouds but with these mysteries still in play, it is clear that this is a rudimentary outline at best. As such, astronomers are beginning to turn to Big Data to help get some answers. With hundreds of observatories around the world and even a couple in orbit, insane amounts of data, images of galaxies billions of light years away and of course many stars within our own Milky Way are constantly being taken and stored. Not just photos either. The effort to understand the universe involves more than just pictures. Images are taken in every conceivable part of the spectrum, from the ultraviolet to the infrared and even radio waves from the depths of space are analyzed. Every bit of this data is useful yet it has until recently been siloed off. Fortunately, scientists have begun to see the value in sharing their data, allowing for the creation of massive searchable databases that will allow them to cross reference information from different times and places, using it to test the predictive power of their models. And when they find (as they surely will) evidence that confounds the model, it will be much easier to adjust that model on the basis of new evidence. 

TARTLE can of course play a role here and be that data marketplace through which information and theories are shared. Through the marketplace it will be possible to not just refine theories but to determine the best observational techniques and equipment, greatly improving efficiency in the long run.

TARTLE brings other benefits as well. As we brought up recently in an article on archeology, astronomers can anonymously share their own hypotheses, ones that might go against the conventional wisdom. Too often these can’t be aired publicly for fear of reprisals and shaming. Sadly, scientists are as open to bias as anyone else. If you doubt that, check into Einstein’s troubles with accepting the Big Bang sometime. It’s eye-opening. TARTLE can provide a forum for some of these ideas that might be unconventional now but may become accepted as the standard in the future. Now, that says something about the importance and the worth of data.

What’s your data worth?

Take a Zettabyte of the Cloud

The global data cloud is growing and doing so at an ever-increasing rate. In fact, it’s being predicted that the “global datasphere” is going to hit 175 zettabytes by 2025. How much is that? Enough for a few lifetimes of HD movies. 

Naturally, as the datasphere gets larger, so does the task of managing and securing it all. We’ve remarked a few times in this space how cloud computing, while already growing before COVID, has exploded, driving the construction of new servers all over the country and the increased adoption of new cloud-based programs like Zoom, which has gone from obscurity to a household name nearly overnight. 

The rise of the cloud has also created opportunities for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Without the need to develop and maintain massive server racks themselves, a startup with access to a desk and a laptop can compete in a number of different spaces that would have been impossible before. Now someone in a developing country can access cloud computing resources to develop a new program and use another resource to develop an app that will allow anyone anywhere with a data connection to make use of that program. This fact has led to the rise of many of these kinds of startups which in turn have been one of the major factors driving the increase in data usage. 

While this has created certain challenges, the benefits have been clear. Cloud computing allows companies to scale up or down quickly as needed. Rather than having tons of electricity-sucking servers stored in the basement that may be too much or not enough from one week to the next depending on the projects going on at the time they can easily scale up or down based on demand. That saves a lot of money since you only have to pay for the server space you actually need at any given time. You need less, you pay less. You need more, you pay more for only as long as you will actually make use of it, instead of buying all that equipment for what is only a temporary need. 

In terms of the challenges, security is probably the most significant. Yet, elegant solutions have been developed in that realm. Private companies and even individuals are able to access encryption that would give the NSA a hard time. Yet, a simple password can decrypt it so that you and whoever you want to share it with can access your information with ease. 

That’s the basic model that TARTLE uses. Our data marketplace is hosted in the cloud, using encryption that protects your data in such a way that only you and whomever you sell it to (or choose to share it with, whichever you choose) can access it easily. This creates a balance between security and fluidity that everyone can benefit from. 

Normally, we talk about how our system is something that individuals can financially benefit from. However, there is no reason companies can’t benefit from selling or sharing data in the TARTLE data marketplace as well. After all, it is guaranteed that someone out there would benefit from incorporating your data into their models, and vice versa. Companies that join TARTLE as sellers and buyers could arrange a mutual exchange of data that would allow both of them to improve their operations, which they could then learn to better interact with the individual sellers of TARTLE to further refine their data sets. 

This creates a snowball effect in which data begets more data. However, rather than just piling up uselessly in a server somewhere it is constantly getting analyzed and refined and used ever more efficiently to drive more efficient businesses which in turn can lead to better lives for their employees and their customers. 

What’s your data worth?

Data for Free pt. 3

Welcome to the third part of our series on how you are giving away information for free online. All day every day we are interacting digitally with something, and every interaction is feeding into multiple algorithms that are being used to gather information about you, primarily for the purpose of serving you more ads. We’re going to learn a couple of new ways in this article and go a bit more in depth on a couple of others. 

One of those additional ways is through third-party software, particularly through the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These are extremely handy tools that developers can use to customize various pieces of software or even develop their own. Though in reality, the APIs allow people not so much to develop their own software as stitch together various pieces of software into different combinations. Embedded in many of these APIs is code that will feedback your information to the parent company or to other aggregators in order to better advertise to you. 

Last time, we talked about how various companies are always tracking your location. Yet, we didn’t talk much about how they do it. Everyone is of course familiar with how nearly every app on their phone asks them to share location data. That happens by accessing your phone’s GPS data. You can of course deny access and even turn off your device’s GPS feature. However, does that really protect you from being tracked? Well, it makes it harder at least. In truth, the more sophisticated companies can figure your location with a high degree of accuracy by seeing how long it takes your signal to bounce back from nearby cell towers. It’s simple triangulation. 

We also mentioned photos last time. How do companies use that against you? Well, if you have kids and share pictures of them online, you can bet you are going to get advertisements for toys, kids’ clothes, and family vacations. Naturally, all of that will be cross-referenced with every other bit of information that you’ve shared, ensuring you’ll not only get ads for Disney World but the specific parks within that are most likely to appeal to you. If there are pictures of friends on your social media don’t be surprised if you get some of the same ads since those people are included in the incessant cross-referencing. 

That reminds me; stop sharing so much. So many people share so many details online unnecessarily that it is possible to put together a decent biography on them just by gathering all those details. You have to be very conscious of this since even people who think they are being careful will let bits and pieces drop over time.

Stop letting them collect so much data on you. Go into your settings and disable personalized advertising, turn off your location sharing, app access to your contact lists, get a VPN, stop sharing everything on social media. All you’re doing is letting these companies sell you things you probably don’t need or even want and helping them shove you into a box. In a way, this is the most nefarious aspect of the whole thing, they’ll make sweeping assumptions about you based on a few tidbits of information and instantly categorize you in a way that may or may not be legitimate. People are more complicated than what can be captured by an algorithm. Someone might both enjoy trap shooting and drive a Prius. Or another person might enjoy reading philosophy in a coffee shop sipping on a latte and then go home and watch John Wick. 

It’s time people broke out of these boxes that mega corporations have been trying to force them into. Fortunately, TARTLE exists to help people do exactly this. With us, you can get out of the algorithms and take back control of your digital destiny.

What’s your data worth?