Do we really want big data peeking into our to-do lists?

Yesterday I saw the image above on ProductHunt.

It made me wonder: do we really want our personal informations aggregated this way? Do we need to? Do we really benefit from it, or someone else does?

I understand it might seem not appropriate for me to write about a competing app, but honestly Tasktic is so small compared to Wunderlist (I don’t see Microsoft purchasing my app for a sum between 100 and 200 million USD anytime soon… but hey, I’d love to be proved wrong!) and those questions still stand:

  • Do we really need this kind of reports?
  • Do we want all our activities and plans aggregated by a big company?
  • Are we really aware our day-to-day informations might become part of a wider profile a corporation could build about us (maybe not now, but it could happen in the future just by editing those Terms and Conditions nobody reads), merging all the data points it collects from its many services into a pretty accurate picture of who we are?

Of course, in the case of Wunderlist’s Your year in Review, each user only sees her own data and I understand it might feel nice to see that you complete most to-dos on Fridays (really, who does that?) and that you’re more productive than another random dude on the Internet. It’s not something you actually “need” to know, but we’re all big fans of the quantified self, aren’t we? Only, be aware that in this case the company behind the service sees **everything, much more than it’s shown on that shiny infographic**, for every single user, including yourself…

When you create a Wunderlist account (and you must in order to use the app), you give them your name and email address right away; if you go Pro, you also provide them billing informations, completing your unique profile. And then you start providing personal informations every time you add an item to a list, because what you’re going to buy, your plans, work activities and so on, all become items in the lists you create. In some way, you almost admit to them that you’re a bit lazy, if you keep adding items and never tick them off…

I’m not sure everybody understands how personal a task manager can become and how many informations it ends up containing about its user.
I’m no luddite and I’m not here to say that we shouldn’t use online services (though, I believe we should always know their business model) or provide any kind of information about us to tech companies. But we shouldn’t necessarily give them everything in exchange for a pretty graph at the end of the year, when there are so many alternatives out there that keep your informations private (yes, including Tasktic, which doesn’t require you to have an account and keeps all your data on your devices and in your own personal, accessible only-by-you iCloud container, without any chance for us to see that you’re not getting much done on Sundays…).

Big Data will be the big theme for 2016. As it was for 2015, and will be for 2017… Let’s choose ourselves what part of our data really needs to be part of Big Data.