Implicit data is information that is not provided intentionally but gathered from available data streams, either directly or through analysis of explicit data. Explicit data is information that is provided intentionally, for example through surveys and membership registration forms.
Clickstreams are one long-standing source of implicit data. In the context of e-commerce, clickstream analysis is often used to determine the effectiveness of a given site as a channel to market by quantifying the user's behavior while on the website. Information gathered includes which pages the user lingers on, what the user puts in or takes out of their shopping cart, and what items the user purchases.
The Wiikno blog provides this comparison of explicit and implicit data that can be gathered from a Facebook update:
Jill posts to her Facebook page, “Jill is going to lunch early with her best friend Megan at Iron Pit BBQ!.” From this Facebook status the explicit data tells us that Jill and Megan are going to eat barbeque for lunch and where they're going to eat.
However, from this same status one can derive a vast amount of implicit data such as:
- Jill has a job.
- Jill has a typical lunch time.
- Jill went to work today.
- Jill and Megan are not vegetarians.
- Jill probably has a day job.
- Jill and Megan are having a relatively normal/typical day.
- Jill and Megan probably don’t have special dietary needs.
- Jill’s work is likely close to Iron Pit BBQ.