2015, Fri, Jan 30

Becoming Data-point

with: Jussi Parikka, Anne Helmond, Carolin Gerlitz, Ganaele Langlois, Greg Elmer

The panelists will discuss how social media companies constantly seek new markets for the social calculation of the data-point economy.

Where once marketers, demographers, and statisticians crunched demographics, psychographics, clusters, and profiles, big data gurus now proffer just one unit of analysis: the data-point. Ironically, as digital rights groups, privacy advocates, and consumer groups bemoan the loss of personal privacy and ubiquitous surveillance by corporations and the state, a vigorous post-ID information landscape has begun to emerge. Social networking sites no longer focus all their attention on individual users and their user-generated content, non-users – those without accounts – are also tracked and merged into “shadow profiles”.

The user is no longer merely replicated or doubled from the data trails on the Internet and elsewhere as Mark Poster once wrote. Rather, in becoming data-point, the individual user’s intrinsic value is always already aggregated with an infinite number of other data points.

This panel seeks to question the ethical, political and technological implication of becoming data-point; broadly construed it seeks to rethink the predominate ‘attention economy’ framework that has been used to theorise the dubious effects of social media platforms. Offering competing frameworks, the panelists will discuss how social media companies constantly seek new markets for the social calculation of the data-point economy.