[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 3 on -empyre-: Internet/Online Representation

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Tue Apr 21 08:15:33 AEST 2015

Hello Anna,

Your observation on the apparent identity of target marking materials is
very interesting. I've been using an add-blocker and opting out of paper
mailing lists for so long that I have not even thought about how a
system's perception of my identity could be used to influence the
appearance of people in ads. I rarely see targeted ads at all.

What concerns me is how this process is driven; what online behaviours
do we exhibit that were noticed by the system and taken as indicators of
gender, ethnicity, etc.?

Essentially, these recommender / target marketing systems model our
behaviour in order to predict and facilitate behaviours that are
favourable to the context of deployment. These systems may (likely do)
capture unconscious aspects of our behaviour that are useful in
predicting our behaviour.

I wonder if this bypasses the very notion of identity as being an aspect
of us in some way. We continue on to act as we do, both intentionally
and unintentionally, and the systems we interact with increasingly
construct a model of our identity. This model may even be at odds with
what we think of ourselves, and yet be functional in the sense of
predicting our behaviour. Add to that the notion of the model being the
property of the organization collecting the data, and there is a
potential for the organization to not only know us better than we know
ourselves, but also own (and be able to trade) that knowledge.

Does identity as a model become a caricature? In order to be socially
engaged online, do we unconsciously internalize these caricatures and
enforce them in order to fit the technologies we use?


On 15-04-20 12:32 PM, Anna Everett wrote:
> So, what got me thinking,
> and I may need you and the other co-panelists to talk me down here,
> why are nearly all e-commerce ads being pushed to me featuring black
> women models? I began noticing that occurring in print catalogues from
> department stores. It is as though there is the black and white
> consumer versions of ads.

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