Pretty much everyone has googled themselves to see what the internet has to say about them. However, if you’re particularly active on forums, blogs, twitter and so on, you’ll end up with so many hits you can barely process it. A web application called Personas created by MIT doctoral student Aaron Zinman attempts to generate a visual representation of those hits, creating a bar chart breaking the subject down by interest. At the same time, the project doesn’t merely create a pretty picture, it raises awareness of the capriciousness of algorithm-driven data mining.

In a world where fortunes are sought through data-mining vast information repositories, the computer is our indispensable but far from infallible assistant. Personas 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. It is meant for the viewer to reflect on our current and future world, where digital histories are as important if not more important than oral histories, and computational methods of condensing our digital traces are opaque and socially ignorant.

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