Friday, August 21, 2009

MIT’s Personas - how the Internet sees you

MIT’s Personas tool is difficult to describe.

It’s a little like peering inside someone’s head as they Google for you and watching them put together the connections and form an impression of your life, work, interests and online contributions.

After typing in your name, for a couple of minutes you’ll watch it wander through cyberspace, picking up nuggets about you, interpreting them, pushing them through its algorithm, and finally displaying a graphical representation of how it categorises your life.

MIT's Personas tool's characterisation/visualisation of Alan in Belfast

The tool’s creators describe the result as

“How the internet sees you.”

It was a reminder to me of the huge amount of information stored online about me, much of it created by people I know - including myself - but some as a result of offline activities and much more obscurely sourced.

And it’s a reminder about my digital legacy - the footprint of information that will probably outlive me by many generations and be available to any historians who want to trail through my past.

Also proof that if you’ve got a fairly unique name, you’re a lot more identifiable and discoverable! The characterisation of John Smith is a lot less precise!

MIT's Personas tool's characterisation/visualisation of John Smith

Personas is one part of the Metropath(ologies) installation at the MIT Museum’s Connections exhibition, looking at “living in a world overflowing with information and non-stop communication”.

Try it for yourself ...

(via @kathyclugston and @laurentchambon)


Dr Sharky said...

My sports section is considerably bigger than yours....but then I am apparrently some pitcher for an unknown baseball team (as well as a CEO of some company). Where do I get the time!?!

Rob Elkin said...

I only had four groupings, all seperated into 25% slots. I think that is the tools way of telling me I am anonymous and so on!

andrewg said...

Hm, I appear three times on the first page of results when I Google myself, and yet this thing didn't analyse the real me once. What does that say?

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

Just noticed one friend who the tool says has "no digital trace"!

Virtual Methodist said...

Unfortunately the prolific output of the author and playwright of the same name swamps my own, and I apparently now have a professional rugby player to compete with as well.

Gwynneth D said...

Alan - mine also said 'no digital trace'. Yay!

Unknown said...

Mr Ulster's into politics: quelle surprise!

Thanks for finding this site.