Monday, 15 August 2016 09:50

Data power, privacy & politics: Interview with Josef Ansorge, author of Identify & Sort

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identify sortThe past eight years, since President Barack Obama beat Senator John McCain, the digital world has taken the political world, and some say the governmental world and turned it on its head.

Part of the reason for the revolutionary change is the advent of social media and now the history and extraordinary power of online data collection.

One young man, Josef Ansorge, an attorney and now author, has described in a new book how the digital world is impacting the political and other worlds.  The book, Identify and Sort explains the process underlying the mechanism in which the transformation of information and influence takes place.

Attorney and Bayoubuzz publisher Stephen Sabludowsky recently interviewed Ansorge in an online video interview to discuss these issues.  

Ansorge’s writing came out of a PhD he did from 2007 2011.  He kept working on the subject until he completed writing the book.  He spent roughly two years working in liberia on the security sector reform of the armed forces of the country and saw what he regarded as a model for something else happening in a lot of other places and that pretty important decisions about how citizens were being represented were being made in “enclosed spaces”.  He noticed that often the public cannot not access the information or participate in them in a meaningful conversation and that process led him to writing the book. 

Because of the breadth of information that is so easily communicated under the public and individual knowledge radar, the holder of the information knows individual better and differently than the individual know themselves.

Some of the highlights of the interview:

With the upcoming elections, the candidates are interested in obtaining all variables that might tell the campaigns how a particular person might vote;

We've lost anonymity in a way in which were not fully aware of it yet;

Companies and marketing organizations (and even businesses that provide background check services to corporate industries use the information to generate a kind of a data base line for each individual voter;

The data is constantly being updated in different silos when new data becomes available;

Campaigns use the data and compare it to their own investigations in the physical world, for example, updating the data when campaigns canvas door to door; 

Campaigns look for influencers and will continue to do so.  For example, the author does not follow follow Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton on social media but he hears a lot about them because their friends do and they retweet which creates various echo chambers; 

In the future, this process will be even more advanced because campaigns can decide  faster and more efficiently whether to waste more resources and money on specific individuals to convince or sway them to support a particular candidacy. 

The author and Sabludowsky also discussed the impact upon social media and politics, whether politicians are in a protective class in terms of how they can use the data, the power of organization electronic data to determine issues such as religion, propensities, voting and buying habits.

They also compared how data had been collected, identified and sorted in Nazi Germany in which information was processed manually via pencil, pen and typewriting compared to the million times faster ability via computer processing.

In his book, Ansorge writes about:

According to political theorist Dr. Josef Ansorge, campaign teams are using sophisticated technology to collect data on voters from a variety of sources—including magazine subscriptions, the types of cars they drive, and where they shop. 

“A majority of the population believes that much of their lives are private, such as what they buy and who they voted for,” says Dr. Ansorge, author of Identify & Sort. “But the reality is that this information can be accessed and purchased by parties attempting to gain power.”

The book can be purchased online at

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