Mr. Stein's tone was understandably negative given his impression that data mining is a phenomenon promulgated by predatory corporations designed primarily to encroach on people’s personal lives and privacy.
Data mining, as a scientific endeavor, however, provides substantial benefits in fields such as medicine and genomic research. For example helping to sift through millions of data points to find actionable correlations between genes and diseases.
Even in Mr. Stein's online experiences these dual use technologies underlie many of the necessary search algorithms that companies like Google use to help us navigate the internet much more efficiently.
Data mining is overall a socially valuable endeavor. The difficult part is finding a way to employ large-scale aggregate uses of data mining while at the same time protecting the privacy of the individuals.
Dov Greenbaum, Mark Gerstein
Above is an unpublished letter in response to:
Data Mining: How Companies Now Know Everything About You
By JOEL STEIN Thursday, Mar. 10, 2011