“The Internet is the technological basis for the organizational form of the Information Age: the network.”
This quote comes from Manual Castells (again, sorry I must be obsessed!) who with his network theory believe in technological determinism – the discussed phenomenon from the ‘unlectures’. Castells arguments are that the way we organise as people in social public networks is only possible because of the way technologies has evolved. Before networks were hierarchically controlled whereas the technologies of today allow individuals to have more power in larger networks. The whole theory about power in networks I already wrote about, so feel free to read that one also. OK back on track… So Castells also argues that no one can not not get influenced by the digital media today and that is because the technologies in our societies are the ones that set the frames around our social behavior. At least according to Castells. Niels Ole Finnemann critisises Castells. Finnemann argues that the Internet is the way it is because there is a demand in society. What he is trying to say is that the Internet does not define our society today, we define the Internet and its attributes.
It might be slightly off topic but underneath is a very good Ted Talk about how Kevin Kelly thinks technology will evolve and what technologies actually mean in our everyday lives:
This is a history about how the use of Big Data can target customers and even figure out when a teen girl is pregnant before her own father does:
Target assigns every customer a Guest ID number, tied to their credit card, name, or email address that becomes a bucket that stores a history of everything they’ve bought and any demographic information Target has collected from them or bought from other sources. A statistician named Andrew Pole employee at Target looked at historical purchasing data for all the female customers who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past and found the following:
“As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.”
So, Target send out coupons for baby items to female customers who achieved those ‘pregnancy scores’. One day an angry man showed up in a Target shop outside of Minneapolis, yelling at the employees for sending his daughter these coupons when she was still in high school. Well… Unfortunately the coupons weren’t send to the wrong costumer – the girl was indeed pregnant! Is this kind of Big Data use unethical when it can interfere in people’s private lives? One thing is sure, companies like Target make a lot of money of targeting their costumers with the use of Big Data.
This weeks ‘unlecture’ was about a lot of different network things and terms. What I found interesting from that ‘unlecture’ in that theatre were two things. First the term Big Dataand Adrians thoughts about what happens every time we use our everyday card in supermarkets – the companies collect data but why? Another thing I found interesting was a more heavy theoretical discussion about the way we view the technological dependent society we live in today. Do our human actions create the technologies we use or do the technologies we use create the way we act as humans? Do the Internet actually dictates how we should act in our everyday lives?
This will be what this week’s posts will be about!