Jonas Lund Trimester1-Outline
Outline Individual Research
In 2009 Google launched a new search algorithm, Personalized Search, which would provide it’s users with better and more accurate search results (Horling). By utilizing a set of parameters, like your location, language or search history, Google tailors the search results to you.
The introduction of the personalized search marked a transition from a ‘one size fits all’ content distribution model to a custom, one mode per user approach. Facebook applies a similar algorithmic idea to it’s newsfeed, the stream of all the posts by everyone in your social graph. What you do influences what you see.
Douglas Rushkoff explains in ‘Program or Be Programmed’: "Likewise, through our series of choices about the news we read, feeds to which we subscribe, and websites we visit, we create a choice filter around ourselves. Friends and feeds we may have chosen arbitrarily or because we were forced to in the past soon become the markers through which our programs and search engines choose what to show us next. Our choices narrow our world, as the infinity of possibility is lost in the translation to binary code." (p.53 Rushkoff)
According to Eli Praiser, this creates a dangerous feedback loop, in which the content you see is based on your previous actions, thus narrowing down the width of your exposure to differentiating topics, without you being aware that it’s happening as you don’t miss what you cannot see. (Praiser)
The personalization of the web, and the content distribution assumes that Google, Facebook and Amazon etc, need to know who You are in order to tailor their behaviour to suit yours.
Rosa Menkman explains in ‘The Glitch Moment(um)’ that “[...] innovation is still assumed to lie in finding an interface that is as non-interfering as possible, enabling the audience to forget about the presence of the medium” (p.14 Menkman). In a similar approach, the personalization of the web is largely invisible, further obfuscating the transparency in how we are perceived by the computer algorithm.
In my research I aim to focus on what that person looks like, the person that Google and Facebook assumes is you. How is it constructed and thus manifested by “your personal online experience”. How is your inherit, automatic, online identity created, besides the more direct actions such as posting a comment on Facebook or outlining your interests or achievements on Google+, I’m interested in the more hidden, less apparent actions which play a large role in the creation of your online identity as seen by the ‘computer’ feeding you the content.
Horling, B, 2009, Personalized Search for everyone, http://googleblog.blogspot.com Rushkoff, D, 2010, Program or Be Programmed, Pariser, E, 2011, Beware online "filter bubbles"’, http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles.html Menkman, R, 2011, The Glitch Momentum, Institute of Network Cultures Amsterdam