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They've Got Your Number...: Data, Digits and Destiny - how the Numerati are changing our Lives [Paperback]

Stephen Baker
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Nov 2009

In a world teeming with data, we ourselves become the maths gurus' most prized specimens.

In They've Got Your Number..., Stephen Baker takes us on a guided tour (no maths required) through an unprecedented new era. Much in the same way as neuroscientists are mapping our brains, mathematicians are mapping our behaviour - what we do, who we are, how we work, chat, play and shop - everything that makes us individuals. In doing so, they will change every aspect of our lives.

They've Got Your Number... examines one of the great undertakings of the twenty-first century - the mathematical modelling of humanity. It's a world that otherwise might seem remote or disconnected, but one which is absolutely relevant to our everyday lives.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (5 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099507021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099507024
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 754,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Baker puts his finger on perhaps the most important cultural trend today: the explosion of data about every aspect of our world and the rise of applied math gurus who know how to use it. Baker's smart, readable style makes this a pleasure... it's a must read for anyone who wants to understand life and business in the Google Age" (Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail)

"Baker knows his stuff and he knows his subjects" (Sunday Times)

"Strikingly well-argued" (Daily Telegraph)

"Baker is telling us about a phenomenon that is important and often overlooked... urgent and exciting...This book won't make you an expert on how the mathematicians do their tricks, but it will make you more aware of the implications" (Marcus du Sautoy Observer)

"A creepy and revelatory examination of the secret pressures on our lives and psyches, and how we are unwitting accomplices to this process" (Colin Waters Sunday Herald)

Book Description

Comparable to The Long Tail and Freakonomics, this is a book of complex ideas written for the general reader.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Should have been better 18 Feb 2010
I read and liked Ian Ayres' Supercrunchers, which can be seen as a kind of predecessor to this book. I read most of the pop. econ. canon until it became obvious they were making the same mistake and didn't seem to care. I thought this might be the logical next step, and in terms of content it should have been. There are some interesting stories in here about how various organisations use more and more detailed information to target smaller and smaller groups. Some of it is fairly obvious, some I hadn't read or thought of before. But somehow I really didn't like the book, and I'm not entirely sure why.

It didn't really live up to its brief - in practical terms they haven't really "got your number" in the sense of you as an individual and the book mentions that a few times, which undermines its title.

There's also something about the writing or the style that really annoyed me. It came as no surprise to read that the author also writes a blog, but what works well in a few hundred words gets tiresome pretty quick over a few hundred pages. Constant padding with personal trivia and location updates irritated me. I didn't really care whether he was in a coffee shop, a public toilet or the lizard house at the local zoo. Even his attempts to be Malcolm Gladwell and give some life to his subjects with pen pictures failed for no obvious reason other than a lack of the charm that allows Gladwell to get away with it.

So in short, if you absolutely have to know more about the subject then you might want to read this book. If you don't, and you're reading for enjoyment, then read some of Gladwell's instead or just keep looking.
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3.0 out of 5 stars quite interesting 14 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A simple, clear and interesting popular introduction to the now ubiquitous field of smart data analysis, making up also a label for people working this field: "numerati"
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good buy 23 Dec 2009
This made a good present for one of the men in my life - interesting without being boring.
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