A recent story in New York Times Magazine has an interesting take on the subject of the current Big Data craze. With the torrent of information being produced by the emerging Internet of Things, data is now defining our decision-making process, from business to personal decisions. We are all on a quest to use data to optimize our experiences, according to the article.

Whether we use data to deflect criticism, to reinforce a belief, or even to lose weight, there seems to be an app for that. It is now turning into a science of its own, and marketers have been quick to adopt it. For example, one can search on just about any topic and their search results are optimized, the pages offering an answer to the problem tend to present the optimal solution, and there is an optimal landing page for you to go to.

Taken to extremes, the search for optimal can lead us down a dark path. For example, if you decide to use a wearable device to gauge your activity and fitness, is it possible that you will engage in fewer enjoyable activities in order to attain an optimal fitness profile? Are we going to lose sight of the forest for the trees?

What happens when we try to optimize our relationships, our working environment, and our commute? The options boggle the mind. Using data as a replacement for emotion can be as senseless as ignoring facts and relying strictly on gut instinct. At some point there needs to be a balance between optimal and reality.