For my final project I am choosing to focus on consumer patterns and how marketers use this information about consumers to create targeted advertisements. I will use Pattern Recognition by William Gibson as my print artifact and compare it to an online website called Immersion (https://immersion.media.mit.edu). This site analyzes Gmail accounts to detect patterns. It was created by the Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology, and it gives Gmail users a glimpse into their email world by creating charts and visuals based on algorithms about their data. It reads the To, From, CC, and Timestamps of the emails and then creates a story about the user with an emphasis on relationships. It also breaks the traditional patterns that we expect when dealing with email by using unique interactive visuals. It also gives users “complete control” of privacy by allowing users to delete data and stop using the service whenever he or she chooses.
Both Cayce and the Immersion website have the ability to collect, aggregate, and find patterns within data, and then use that information to direct future behavior. This describes the functions of targeted advertising. Cayce and Immersion both achieve a similar function; however, they are each very different. They each focus on finding connections between things, whether it be popular logos, advertisements, or even people. Cayce does this by physically reacting to stimuli, and Immersion uses algorithms to analyze connections to form relationship webs. Cayce’s processing method is seemingly uncontrollable, while Immersion processes the information using carefully calculated methods and software. Immersion has a privacy setting that allows the system to immediately stop processing a user’s email upon request; however, Cayce cannot choose to stop reacting to stimuli. My analysis will emphasize why even in this world that is rapidly becoming digitalized, it is still necessary to have the human element. Cayce has special human abilities that cannot be mimicked by technology. Targeted advertising is neither purely digital nor purely physical; rather, it is a compilation of the two forms.
My project will be written as a paper and will include charts and images that correlate with the data. These charts will be posted online to create a digital experience along with the print experience. I will also include a video about Immersion that I found particularly interesting and gives a more in depth look at how it works. Alice Marwick’s “How Your Data Are Being Deeply Mined” will be used as a source, along with Stephen Wolfram’s “The Personal Analytics of My Life”.