« The Weeds

How corporations got all your data


Sean Illing speaks with Matthew Jones, historian of science and technology, and co-author (with data scientist Chris Wiggins) of the new book How Data Happened. They discuss the surprisingly long history of data from the 18th century to today, in service of explaining how we wound up in a world where our personal information is mined by giant corporations for profit. They talk about how the allure of measurement and precision spread from astronomy to the social sciences, why advertising became so bound to the operation of the internet, and how we can imagine a more democratic future for us and our data, given the unprecedented power of today's tech companies.

Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area

Guest: Matthew L. Jones (@nescioquid), author; James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization, Columbia University



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  • Producer: Erikk Geannikis
  • Engineers: Patrick Boyd & Brandon McFarland

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