iPhones store a log of your location data in an unencrypted file, there's been a mix of reactions. Some are outraged by the privacy implications. Some don't see why it's a big deal, citing either the forensic community's prior knowledge of the logs or the fact that many people share location information on Foursquare. Others have been intrigued at the possibilities of exploring their own personal location information.Since data scientists Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden (disclosure: Pete writes for ReadWriteWeb) presented information about how
Almost immediately after Alasdair and Pete released their iPhone tracker app that let people visualize their location data, people started to share their graphs.
Here's one from Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic :
And here's one from our own Audrey Watters:
What personally bugs me the most about this era in which seemingly everything we do is tracked, recorded and analyzed is how little access I have to the data I generate. I'd like to be able to carry around that data, port into other applications, etc. This is not a new idea - Ben Russell wrote about it in the Headmap Redux, the defunct Attention Trust was founded on that idea and now Jeremie Miller's Locker Project is working on putting some of those sort of ideas into practice.
In the meantime, we've got these log files - and it turns out Android phones have them too. So what can we do with them?
Drew Conway has released an R package for OSX called stalkR that lets you work with the iOS data. It will be interesting to see more tools emerge for working with this stuff.
For more on data mining your life, see Quantified Self.