Guest post: What is Data Mining – Explaining it to the Layman

January 30, 2010 by
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It is my pleasure to welcome Barbara Williams on Data Mining Research for a guest post about data mining. Barbara writes on the topic of Computer Technician Schools. You can email her at: I hope you will enjoy her post.

As a layman who is not familiar with technological terms and their meanings, if you come across the term “data mining”, it’s not surprising if you wonder where from and why data has to be mined. To explain it as simply as possible, data mining is the process of finding logical patterns in data and according order and meaning to various sets of seemingly random data. If you’re still in the dark and cannot understand this explanation, then perhaps you need to sign on with Google for its free email, because for those of you who have ever used any of Google’s free services, it’s easy to understand what data mining is all about.

When you open your Gmail account, there is a column to your right where a series of advertisements are displayed. They change every time you log in to your mailbox and every time you open a new email. And if you look closely at these sponsored links, you’ll find that they are based on the contents of your email. No, Google is not looking over your shoulders, reading your mail, and then directing ads to your inbox; rather, bots scan through your mail messages on the Google server, mine the data that is found there, and use keywords to direct the relevant sponsored links to your mailbox.

You can argue the privacy issue until you’re blue in the face, but Google is just not going to do anything about it, because as far as the search engine giant is concerned, there is no human eye reading your email other than your own. It’s all done automatically, for millions of users the world over, and the amazing aspect of this is the accuracy of the advertisements that are displayed on your screen.

They’re generated based on keywords in your email, and there are times when you feel that the Google data mining bots are able to think for themselves too – for example, if there is any reference to a native American name, there are advertisements relating to tourism relating to native American history. That’s how intuitive Google’s data mining process it.

At times it wows your mind, and at others, you feel that your privacy is being invaded, that someone is reading your mail, something that is meant for your eyes alone. And it’s not just your mail that is analyzed – if you’re logged on to Gmail or any other service from Google when you run a Google search, your search history too is used to generate advertisements. Your browsing habits are being analyzed by Google to generate the ads that you are most likely to be interested in.

Data mining is mostly used by marketers and people who need to analyze large volumes of data and make sense of it for some purpose or the other. And even though the example I’ve cited makes a shiver run down your spine, it’s the easiest way to explain it in non-technical terms.

To know more about Barbara Williams, visit her website:

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One Comment on Guest post: What is Data Mining – Explaining it to the Layman

  1. Media CV on Thu, 4th Nov 2010 5:49 am
  2. Very informative ! thanks for explaining both the data mining and Google services. Now in in Barbara website..cheers!

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