One thing I have never wondered, I imagine much to my detriment, is the correlation between testicles, ovaries and the use of WiFi on trains.
On my various oscillations backwards and forwards across the country, I am often found in need of Internet access more robust the than the tethering capabilities of my telephone. Having never got BT Openzone to work, despite my being a paying customer, I find myself using the packaged service, The Cloud. I find The Cloud very useful in that my phone and laptop both have my credentials in their respective keychains and they connect automatically and log in. One, slightly annoying splash screen, to remind you to whom you are beholden of course, and everything is usually well.
Today though, as I stood at a station operated by East Midlands Trains, I was held to ransom for the access unless I supplied my gender.
I’m not entirely sure whether the information was being requested by The Cloud or by EMT, or why on Earth, either of them would want to know.
In terms of The Cloud, in using their free product, I’m not their customer, EMT is. So the only logical solution is that they’re harvesting metrics to sell to marketing and PR firms. Or to put it bluntly, using the fact that I have testicles and that I preload music in train stations, for increased revenue outside of their generic function. Nice.
In terms of EMT, it is utterly inscrutable. Whether there is WiFi or not at train stations is never going to dictate whether someone uses that station or not. If I am in a certain place, I use the nearest station. So the WiFi is just a perk, a nice to have service that makes me think warm and fuzzy feelings about EMT. It doesn’t matter whether I was born with a Y chromosome or not either. The WiFi is a throwaway gesture to endear people to the company. The information on whether I am more likely to use free WiFi because I have ovaries cannot help them to provide a better service or attract more customers.
This is an interesting and endemic issue of this so called “digital age”, the wanton harvesting of near-useless data. It happens everywhere at every level. People and companies think more about metrics and how to gather them, and what they possibly can gather, rather than focussing on what they want to achieve and therefore how to achieve it and what information they need to accomplish it.
And so, the correlation between ovaries and bandwidth will be logged on an expensive storage solution somewhere. Perhaps a report will be run on it one day…