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Cake day: July 2nd, 2023

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  • A car is parked at the far end of the street. Hidden by the shadow of an old elm, and a reflection of the blue sky on the windshield, an agent patiently writes out his notes:

    8:15 am A leaves house on foot 8:17 am B arrives driving and parks car (license plate: GYX 455), walks away 8:40 am B arrives, enters house 9:20 am A arrives on foot, leaves in car

    This is called a stakeout. A form of surveillance.

    IT folks will also recognize this as analytics data. You can almost see the json: timestamp, event name, metadata

    As analytics data gets tagged to individuals, it becomes targeted surveillance.

    Regular analytics is like a surveillance camera: you just see each person in a snapshot, all in the same place. You’re seeing the story of the place. Like a 7-Eleven, tracking when its customers come to decide when to make the coffee.

    But modern analytics is more and more all the events about a person or cluster of people. That’s a lot more like the FBI following Hemingway, keeping a log of all his activities to build a profile.