With nothing more than a first and last name, the Personas web application creates a picture of how the internet sees you. Eerie insights sometimes flash across the page, often followed by absurd non sequiturs. The website, created as part of an MIT art installation Metropath(ologies), is meant as a critique of data mining efforts by Google, Netflix, and the U.S. Government. In a statement on the project, the authors say:
We typically are never given the chance to see the decision making process that ranks some webpage in the fourth slot for a specific Google Query, and most certainly not when money is to be made in a competitive environment. Personas is meant to expose this black box process as controlled voodoo.
The visualizations don’t have any live links in them, and you can’t copy and paste from it, which gives the impression of a data interpretation process that the user is powerless to control.
(Thanks, Apples and Owls.)