Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Another e-mail, this time more disturbing, from one Gina Clemmer at Smartgirl Technologies, advertising a US$250 Seattle Demographic Analysis Workshop for June 25, 2004. This one takes place in Bellevue, Washington, and promises to teach me how to extract demographic info from the latest census (1990 and 2000) and other survey data. To sell the workshop, they include participant comments from two public agencies (King Country Public Health Department and UW - yes, UW is a public agency as long as the state keeps funding them) and two other organizations (NPower Seattle and Seattle Goodwill).

What's disturbing is what they say I'll be able to do - namely extract, plot, and track demographic data including Poverty, Race, Age, Housing, Language, and Transportation. How do they get that from the census? The census is about apportioning the number of Representatives each state gets to send to Congress(U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, amended by Amendment 14). All the census takers can ask is how many people live at this address, so we can get the right number of congressmen (one for every 30,000 people, again Article 1, Section 2). Anything else is specifically prohibited (Amendment 10).

So these people are telling me how to mine data gathered illegally, and selling CD's full of illegally gathered data as well. Too bad this information isn't in musical form - the RIAA might do something about it then. As it is, this will be ignored by our government, and the people selling this show have no incentive to blow the whistle on themselves.

To stop this, then next census that comes around, make sure you answer what you should - how many people live at the address listed. Anything else is prohibited, and you can explain that to the census taker who shows up, if they have the intelligence to read and understand the simple English of the Constitution (yes, simple English - you want complicated English, try Chaucer or Thomas Pynchon).

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