I am going to start this whole blogging process by potentially appearing as if I am some kind of conspiracy theorist. A number of years ago, a close friend of mine lent me a book by the author M. T. Anderson. The genre of Feed (2001) is young adult science fiction, and is written in that satirical dystopian style that has become increasingly popular. The thing about Feed, to me, is its haunting yet somewhat realistic premise. Corporation is government. The population is constantly bombarded by the onslaught of consumer messaging via implanted chips —the new norm of technology. Advertisements are literally inside everyone’s heads, and they can no longer disconnect. “They” are always watching (sounds a little like 1984, doesn’t it?) and gearing unique messaging to individuals from an advantageous perspective.
How far are we, really, from this potential reality?
Right … I know we don’t have chips implanted in our heads. But what about our regular curiosities via our web searches? When you search for a thing, any given thing …or place, or activity, or person …have you noticed increased marketing at you in those little sidebar or banner ads that tie back to that exact place, activity, or person for which you were searching? I understand how useful this can be from a marketing standpoint. Yet, in all of this, can there be a premise of having too much connectivity? The spin I see with this is that it is a lot of information geared at consumerism. “They” gather details for the sake of profiteering. It seems frighteningly easy to gather a lot of data about people these days —even from those of us who sometimes wouldn’t mind having a bit of anonymity.
Despite what you have read from me so far, though I think it can all be a bit creepy, I am entirely intrigued by how we can use these forces for good. We, too, can use our new media resources and these marketing tools that “they” use to make money off us, but rather to create a conduit for positivity in this ever-changing world. Instead of data-mining for profits …what about data-mining for social change?