The Digital Me

Society is made of of information that people have bestowed upon one another. With technology on the rise, information but anything and almost everything is all digital and developed as data.

We live in a world of ubiquitous networked communication, a world where the technologies that constitute the Internet are so woven into the fabrics of our daily lives, that for the most of us, existence without them seems unimaginable” – John Cheney Lippold, We are Data, Page 3

In our generation the digital era has become more and more influential on the way in which we not only develop information but use the information to describe ourselves. With each click, text, email, or search, algorithms are being created and recreated in order to develop an identity for each and every one of us.

A simple web search from even the most sophisticated of smartphones generates a lengthy record of new data

 – John Cheney Lippold, We are Data page 4

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Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images.

In John Cheney-Lippold’s book We are Data he describes the categories in which data begins to place us in depending on all the algorithms it has compiled for us. Despite who we know we are, the data in which sites such as Google, have created an identity for us. Although sites as Google and Facebook may have defined an identity for each individual, the definition of these categories changes over time. Thus, what ‘gender’ was was defined as one the computer has changed from what it means now. In a generation a change, a person’s identity is more complex than it has ever been before. Everyday people are redefining what it means to be a girl, boy, man, woman, or even simply human. Therefore, despite the data that this algorithms are calculating, it will difficult to place these individuals into just one meaning of category that this person is being put in (Cheney-Lippold 52). As John Cheney’s continues in We are Data, his readers begin to see the different data patterns in which Google and other technologies create for form digital versions of ourselves.

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Google and its algorithms

However, despite the categories that these algorithms can attempt to put us all in, there are some positives to this madness. Cheney-Lippold defines Google’s mission as “a way to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Cheney-Lippold 46).

 

In fact, throughout We Are Data he exemplifies the variety of ways in which Google does it’s best to not only help people understand and become more knowledgeable, but for people to help Google become more knowledgeable. With the use of searches and sometimes the personalization that one can do to their profile, Google can be more accommodating to what you want. Machines don’t just create, what Cheney-Lippold defines as measurable types (is a data template of different datafied elements that construct a new, trans-coded interpretation of the world), out of thin air.

 

In fact, throughout We Are Data he exemplifies the variety of ways in which Google does it’s best to not only help people understand and become more knowledgeable, but for people to help Google become more knowledgeable. With the use of searches and sometimes the personalization that one can do to their profile, Google can be more accommodating to what you want. Machines don’t just create, what Cheney-Lippold defines as measurable types (is a data template of different datafied elements that construct a new, trans-coded interpretation of the world), out of thin air.

shimon

Screen grab from Youtube

 

People tend to forget that these machines learn from what is being given to them. With the example of the marimba-playing automaton named Shimon, designed by the researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, one can see that computers learn from it’s creators. This machine was programmed to play like the musicians or follow a lead of music as those around them (Cheney-Lippold 68).

Each note and rest is inputted to denote it’s pitch (A#5), it’s duration (an eighth note or a whole rest), and it’s volume (pianissimo or forte)

John Cheney Lippold, We are Data page 68

After reading this section of We Are Data all I could think about was an episode in the series Black Mirror, called Be Right Back.

As you can see from the trailer it’s as manipulative and in other ways, heartbreaking as it can get. I wanted my viewers to see this example as not only an introduction to the series of Black Mirror but to see the dependency and loss of control that machines place on us.

Technology has not only transformed the way in which we see information or obtain it for that matter, but it has become a way of defining ourselves. Through the use of algorithms that sites such as Google and Facebook create for use, develop a sense of identity for each and every one of us. Although e can program and change the way these sites process the searches and texts and emails that we put into our data profiles, in more ways than one, we begin to see that despite our control over these machines, these machines are constructed us more than we are constructed them.

 

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