ORIGINAL MIDTERM PROJECT PROPOSAL
The negligent and liberal exchange of digital privacy and personal data for a personalized internet experience may or may not be justified in its benefits for individual web users. Is it an opportune investment we make when exchanging, often unknowingly, our personal details (that strategically have produced the highest return on advertiser’s dollars) for the cultivation of consumer profiles that possibly contain little to no meaning or representation of our actual needs? Hundreds of data points that are collected from our clicks and likes are used by target marketing engines to provide us with what may be seen as irrelevant, repetitive and useless shortcuts. These data points are, perhaps, not enough on their own to provide accurate insight into an individual’s consumer behavior, particularly when they are utilized and deployed in the absence of sufficient data analysis for predicting the behavior of the demographic to which that individual belongs. These data points-our clicks, likes, tags and searches-may not be proportionately insightful as compared to the sheer magnitude of the data collected. The random collection of personal data may not have the capacity to grasp our true consumer profiles without being supplemented by understanding how these data points fit respectively into consumer identities or niches. Is the generation of a link on our web page to buy a new couch relevant or necessary because one has recently purchased a new one? I am interested in understanding whether or not these dots--data points that are sent from our browsers only to be elusively collected by various, anonymous sources--are consequential or effective in satisfying consumer needs and generating the greatest return on investment per advertising when left unconnected, un-graphed and without analysis. What appears to be a transaction between our privacy and a socially curated and individually streamlined composite of information, could be too convenient to be true. I will be attempting to assess what may be a hole in the conversation; are these data points disjointed compilations of online consumer behavior? Or are they, in fact, successful and comprehensive in the understanding of digital identity?