Big Data’s Influence On College Admission Is Growing

By Willard Dix.

A recent tweet from Big Brother, er, Netflix, gave many subscribers pause. Whatever and however we watch the service, we seldom realize that “they” are watching us as well. The tweet, sent not by an individual but by Netflix US, said, “To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?”

I haven’t seen the movie in question, but it’s evidently a sappy Cinderella-ish story one critic described as having been copied and blended from “every Christmas movie from Hallmark/Lifetime/Ion/UPTv/TVOne and BET. This thing is almost a parody of a Hallmark Christmas movie.” In other words, plenty of treacle, melodrama and improbable happy endings.

In the privacy of our homes, where binge-watching is now a thing, we don’t really notice or care that something on the other side of our screen registers not only what we watch but how long we watch it, whether we ever finish and what our watching patterns are. And then someone looks at that data, interprets it and tells us what we might like next or speculates about our emotional condition. The Netflix text, clearly meant as a joke, cracked open our screen; someone is watching us as we watch it. (Read The Circle by Dave Eggers for an idea of what this might be like when everything is “seen” and where “Secrets are lies.”)

Well, I hate to tell you, but colleges are doing the same thing in their never-ending search for ideal candidates who will not only fulfill their need for any number of student types but who will also attend if admitted.  Read the full article