How does the Internet see you?

Personas asks the question – how does the Internet see you?

Try the Personas search, see it build up a categorisation of how the Internet sees you on the fly and see how that matches your reality.

Personas is a critique of data-mining that demonstrates the computer’s uncanny insights and its inadvertent errors, such as the mischaracterizations caused by the inability to separate data from multiple owners of the same name.

Below is a short film showing a Personas search for Intute captured using Screenr – a browser based screencasting tool. A larger version can be seen via the full screen icon or by viewing it from the Screenr website.

This gives a fairly true snapshot of how Intute is described online – with plenty of good descriptions of what we do, some nice reviews from users and a few things you may not have encountered – primarily because it uses Yahoo for the search data rather than Google.

Try a personal name rather than a corporate identity and you may encounter some different results. It was gratifying to see that I was identified as the Economics Editor of Intute on the very first selection – but the categorizations seemed rather bizarre.

It certainly succeeded in getting me thinking about whether data mining is really technologically neutral or just dependent upon how creators of algorithms choose to model the world and which inputs / outputs they use, plus it is a timely reminder of the trail of data we leave online.

While academics may be more concerned about how their identity is represented in traditional academic outputs – see the Mimas / British Library Names project – their online identity may be just as important.

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