Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear"Big" Data- I'm Going to Have to Cut You Loose

re: I've lost that loving feeling...

Dear Data:

It's time to say goodbye to you and that bunch of arrogant jackasses you call friends, I'm talking about "Assessment," "Evaluation," "Quantification,"  "Categorization, "  and "Testing."

All they ever do is sit around drinking beer and talking smack about me and my kid and my kid's teachers.

Last week, one of those acronym-loving losers spilled salsa on my new couch . Instead of admitting it, he just flipped the couch cushion over and pretended it never happened.  When I brought up the situation I got a major dose of stink eye and was told to  "take it up with CBEDS or CALPADS.

Blowing you off via blog seems rather impersonal, I realize.  But, as I have come to understand, impersonal is exactly the way you like things- cold, shallow, and "one size fits all."   You talk about "the big picture" when what you really mean is that you can't stand the thought of anyone marching in other than a straight line.   I've never met anyone so afraid of divergence and creativity  Children who have a love of learning make you shiver in disgust.

It's true that at first, I thought you were cool.  I'll admit that much.  Those halcyon days saw us earnestly examining issues that seemed important and worthwhile.    You never pried and you were content to know the basics about me- name, address, emergency contact number, etc.    I felt pretty safe with you back then. Like my opinions mattered to you.  That I counted as an individual. That I could trust you to keep our discussions close to the vest.

You really hooked me when you showed an interest in my kid, too.  You pretended that everything you did was with my child in mind. You offered to help with homework, pick her up from school.  You even sat in the classroom a few times, observing the teachers and offering helpful insights.

Then, suddenly.  Things began to change.

You and your "friends with no benefits " started hanging out more and more.  Once, I came into  the basement and caught you all watching "Common Core" movies on Youtube.   Of course you denied it and said you were watching fly fishing videos.  I knew better...

I checked your account later and saw titles like "Debbie Does Dallas School District,"" and Behind the Green Core."

I was concerned.  But boys will be boys, so I let it slide.  That was a big mistake.

Emboldened that you had gotten one over on me, you went into high gear, gorging yourself on personal information, Doritos, and cheap lager.

You replaced your beloved "Dogs Playing Poker," poster with a photo of Arne Duncan shaking hands with Bill Gates.  Arne had on a leather dog collar and Bill was in a latex costume, leading him around with a whip and a chain.    I was horrified.

Before you changed, you had always said "Size doesn't matter."  Now, though, you started demanding  that I and others refer to you as "Big" Data, and you bragged about how large your database was and how well you used it. 

You demanded more and more information from me, wanting to know my religious preferences, political affiliations, how many times I exercised per week, and how "green," I was.    You forced my kid to take test after test after test just so you could wave the results in front of your friends and laugh at her. 

You recorded everything I said and did, claiming you were building a profile to assist my family in getting the most from their educational experience.

That was a lie.  The reality was that you sold me out, and allowed your friends, even your business associates to access my information whenever they wanted to, for any reason.
When I questioned you, you told me to shut up, that you didn't need my permission to share.

I threatened to quit you and you laughed in my face.

"Baby, you'll never leave me.  You need my big data machine to dominate you; to help you make all your decisions.  You can't live without my input, " you said with an arrogant smirk.

But you are wrong, Data.  I don't need you or your big database to feel satisfied.  I'm a thinking, feeling parent who trusts my gut when it comes to my child and her education.    I trust her teachers to act in her best interest  when they are allowed to do so. 

I don't need you stealing my information and selling it to big corporations so they can figure out new ways to empty my threadbare pockets.

I don't need you at all.  And more importantly, I don't want you.

So, Data pack your bags and hit the road and take those miscreants you call friends with you.


PS: If you are worried about a place to stay, call Arne.  I'm sure he'll let you sleep on his couch for a few days.