I have no doubt that the corporate workers here, those computer savvy folk, our Barbers and Dougs, would assure me that this stuff is going on all the time, on a million different levels, and as someone who only sees these things from a ground-view, let my mind wander fanciful.
Paul: Let's start with the good news.
My stints in government defense contracting, in distillate sales for one of the big oil companies, in telephone billing and now in B2B marketing have all served to reinforce one thing to me: a lot of companies with diverse operations will make do with the space they have, and cram disparate operations into whatever space they have. So the situation you describe isn't uncommon, and you may find two very different data-heavy projects going on in the same space that have no bearing on one another, though logic suggests they could be related. I think the curiosity about the environment you describe is natural if you're even the least bit curious about how things work, and what's coincidence versus design, and so on. I also think if you have a 'what if' sort-of mind, you're going to wonder about big piles of personal data HERE, and people working on the inner working of voting machines over THERE, and wonder over the presence of patterns between the two sides. Especially if there's no apparent protocol between the two sides. If data from Side A isn't going over the wall to Side B, when it seems there could in some fashion be a reason it MIGHT, then a flight of fancy isn't a weird thing. Curiosity in such a thing is, I'd posit, very natural, but the odds are that it's a matter of two very different segments of the same company using space they're already paying for to accomplish separate things.
And there's a LOT of data being collected and used for different purposes. What's collected and stored and processed and resold and re-resold has exploded. And most of that is for good old-fashioned consumer-driven advertising, enticement and corporate money-making. We the people have, for the most part, taken this in stride. We buy something consumable at the store, and we get a register coupon for the same item three visits later. We sign up for something and will receive like-threaded deals and offers for months or years to come; and so on. By now, we've become desensitized to it. We might think about how it's all connected, but only in passing. Maybe when the store spits out a coupon for, say, the same razor blades you bought three weeks ago, you may wonder what ELSE is in the database; how it's tied to you via a credit or debit card; whether all your purchases for that card are in some master database; whether other stores have a similar data dump, and whether they connect, and so on. But a lot of people take their coupon, go "Huh. Okay, cool" (because have you SEEN the price of razor blades?) and move on.
That's the good news: this sort of thing goes on quite a bit in big business and usually without nefarious intent.
And now, the bad news:
1) The Government loves data, but needs to be watched like a kid in a candy store. A stupid kid that thinks you can eat the lollypop stick and all. Just ask Brandon Mayfield. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Mayfield
2) Story in the UK Progressive, in which former NSA analyst Michael Duniho looks at weird election statistical anomalies and discovers mathematical reasons to be very, very concerned about Ohio and other locations tomorrow:
http://www.ukprogressive.co.uk/breaking ... 20598.html
Takeaways: 1) Any government body authorizing the use of a voting machine that comes with the restriction from the manufacturer that they cannot review it, validate it, or know how it works should be impeached en toto for being a complete and utter moron; 2) anyone looking to manipulate information is counting on the idea that the electorate that doesn't research and often votes against its own interests based on sound bytes would never bother to look into the guts of how a voting machine's software works; 3) I think "obtaining" one and cracking it to see just how it does what it does would be one of those noble illegal acts.
Given just those two bits above? I think there's a lot less that can be classed as paranoia in the digital age - which might as well be voodoo to a LOT of the population - where power and control are concerned.