Your Digital Portrait, by ‘Personas’ at MIT

June 4, 2010

With every blog post and web page, you leave online trails of information for search engines to follow later. What does the sum of this trail say about you? Is this an accurate picture or just random data?

The Sociable Media Group at MIT Media Lab wanted to explore an answer to that question with a digital exhibit using “sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one’s aggregated online identity.”

Translated, this Personas project shows how the Internet sees you. It’s easy enough to use, just type in your name.

Of course curiosity got the best of me and I had to try it. Just watching the program work is rather interesting – it’s a little transparent in the sense that you see the text being processed so it’s not so much of a data black box.

While interesting, it doesn’t seem totally accurate, at least to my eyes. I am certainly reminded that information without context is just data.

Since I am at an AIGA retreat this week, I thought it would be interesting to see what the system did with a little cheat, so instead of a name I typed in “AIGA the professional association for design” and this popped up:

At a minimum, I think I’m going to hang on to this colored bar and use the “dna strip” in a personal project somewhere. That alone should make for a good story!

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