Your data…Your asset…

March 7, 2012


A month ago, the New York Times published an opinion piece entitled ‘Facebook is Using You.’ Effectively, they argued that the use of aggregated online data is an invasion of privacy and that a person’s online profile and/or behavior potentially paints an inaccurate picture of who they actually are.   At one extreme, yes, I agree- there is a much room in today’s society for marketers, health care providers, financial service firms, insurers, etc to misuse a person’s data based on their search habits or the types of websites an individual visits.  On the flip side, I would suspect that 9 times out of 10, there is some correlation between a users ‘web data’ and who they actually are.  In fact, I’d be willing to wager that for a large portion of the world, someone’s online profile is actually a more holistic representation of their character than may be found in more antiquated reputation databases.  I also think it’s important to decipher between data that is self reported, e.g. that which a user enters or provides on sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn when creating a profile or on Foursquare when checking in at a location, and that which is ‘mined’ online through the use of cookies and or other tracking mechanisms.   For context, at Demyst.Data, we focus on the former, and only that which is publicly available, and the application of such data solely for the benefit for the consumer.

It is our opinion that the ability to effectively access, analyze and deploy a person’s data creates an invariably better customer experience for the ‘goods’ of the world.  Online data provides many who otherwise would be considered ‘off the grid,’ think youths, immigrants, the un-banked and under-banked, with a mechanism to establish an asset and a dossier for which reputation laden industries can make informed decisions about such people.   Without this profile, they are essentially invisible with no access to relevant offers, no access to fair credit, and probably most importantly, no mechanism to transform and transition to being ‘on the grid’.

Curious about the information that is publicly available on you?  Look yourself up for a sampling.  If you don’t like what you see or feel as if your online footprint is not actually representative of the information you have provided to some of our partner sites, you can always opt out of our database by clicking here.

Foursquare API integration

October 24, 2011

Foursquare’s API changes quickly, so this post may be out of date before you get started.

However they offer up to the minute, user generated, location based venue data that makes it well worth the effort, especially if you’re cross referencing it with other location based data sources.

As with many social APIs, there are requests which need oauth (i.e. the end user opts-in) and those which don’t. This post gives an example of integrating with the public (non-oauth) data using ruby.

A quick example :

  def foursquare latlon
    apikey = get_my_foursquare_api_key # sign up as a developer, hardcode your key here
    apisecret = get_my_foursquare_api_secret  # ... and your secret key here
    @url = "{latlon}&client_id=#{apikey}&client_secret=#{apisecret}"
    hsh = download(@url) # use Curl or some other method to get the json results
    results = {}
    results = hsh.response.groups.first.items if hsh.response && hsh.response.groups && hsh.response.groups.first && hsh.response.groups.first.items

Hopefully this is quite self explanatory. The result is an array of all nearby venues.

For example if you wanted to find popular venues near DC :

  x = foursquare("38.898717,-77.035974")
  pp x
  puts # West Wing

Or, if you’d like to save some time and avoid this work altogether, we integrate and aggregate a range of interesting data, and deliver it through 1 simple API, so you don’t have to