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

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Wed Apr 22 03:05:51 AEST 2015

Hello Anna,

I had no intent whatsoever to "talk down" at all. Please let me know
off-list how that came across and how I can avoid it in the future. I
can imagine my interest in using somewhat plain language and making few
assumptions may appear over-explanatory. I hope I did not misunderstand
your message.

My main point regarding identity was not so much the aspect of identity
as caricature, but more the notion of whether unconscious
characteristics and behaviours are part of identity and what it means
for systems to learn those without our explicit consent or knowledge of
the process.

Indeed there is a cost of admission to many online systems, often in the
form of ToS, as you state. This is consistent with the sense that much
online discussion happens in 'private spaces', rather than open public
spaces (online or offline). Part of the ongoing erosion of 'the commons'.

I still need to think about this more, but I think there is something
different in agreeing to terms (allowing sites to collect our data) and
the use of that data in order to facilitate particular behaviours.
Perhaps that is the purpose of any product, not to fulfil a need, but to
reinforce an insatiable need.

I think the majority of our behaviour is habitual and not often
critically reflected upon. The notion of a system learning these habits
could certainly encourage a good user experience, good meaning efficient
and 'natural'. At the same time it seems that a system that nudges your
habits in incremental ways could be a very insidious method of
engineering behaviour, and in the context of this month's theme, even
engineering identity.

Thanks for the link to the article, I had not come across it. I recall
reading something about self-objectification leading to a shift of the
sense of "pleasure" being less embodied and more related to how one
looks to an external observer. A conflation of what feels good and what
looks good? This does seem to indicate the media representation of
identity (selfie) is conflated with the subject (self).

I have not read a lot of theory on identity. Are identities considered
unmediated, or are they always mediated by a system of representation?
i.e. is an identity a representation of self, or a sense of self?
(apologies if this has already been discussed, I did not catch all the
emails this month).

Again, I apologize for coming off as 'talking down'.


On 15-04-21 09:02 AM, Anna Everett wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Ben, while I am not sure I have been "talked down" completely, your
> comment provides fodder as I formulate more clearly my concerns with
> recommender algorithms where race matters (not to dredge up that
> current Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson unfriending public split)
> online identity, and ideology collide.
> You remarked: "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?"
> As I was contemplating your response to me, I was thinking that it is
> not necessarily that I/we internalize the caricatures and enforce them
> to fit the technologies, but more it has become the price of our
> internet participation ticket, like accessing any software update. You
> don't get to "discuss" or challenge the terms of agreement, you ether
> "agree" or you do not get updated. And besides, who reads the
> impenetrable legalese intended to ensure your non-reading of the terms
> of agreement. Anyhow, apropos of your observation, I found this Huff
> Post article quite pertinent:
> "How Facebook Stalking Could Lead Women To Objectify Their Own Bodies"
> <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/20/facebook-stalking-makes-you-feel-bad_n_7100832.html?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067>
> Again, Ben, thanks for joining our discussion week.
> Anna
> On Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 3:15 PM, B. Bogart <ben at ekran.org> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> 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?
>> Ben
>> 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.
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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