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Crude and Rude?

By Janne Lahtiranta, Sami Hyrynsalmi

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61 No. 11, Pages 34-35

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Ever since the statement "Data is the new oil," widely credited to British mathematician Clive Humby,a was made in 2006, the world has experienced profound changes in the ways consumer-related digital information is used and accessed. Accordingly, it can be argued that current-generation smart devices and electronic services (including Internet service providers) are merely pieces of a pipeline in this new 'oil' business with a sole purpose of providing 'crude' for service providers to be processed and refined. In this sense, the metaphor coined by Humby (and others) is appropriate.

Taking the metaphor one step further, it must be acknowledged that the tycoons of this new 'oil' business are actually pretty smart when compared to Haroldson Hunt or Clint Murchinson, who were among the most notable businessmen during the Texas oil boom that took place in the U.S. in the early 20th century. Unlike in Texas, the 'land owners' (that is, consumers) of today pay for the gushers (smart devices), pipeline (Internet connection), and they even do the hard labor (use the services and applications).


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