Michael Braverman portfolio / personal site

Prototype II: Data$ein Economy

Fig.2: Overview of Data$ein’s method of interaction

Because I wanted to create a user interaction that highlights the concept of expropriation and dispossession that occurs in the process of data gathering practices, I decided to create a prototype using the node.js server platform. The idea behind Data$ein Economy prototype, was to visualize the social dynamics that occur in the process of data accumulation (Fig.2). This stems from my initial idea of creating a game/interaction that even children can understand. It meant to highlight the social hierarchies behind everyday technologies Explore the dehumanizing aspects of data capitalism that go unnoticed. It consists of a basic economic system that exemplifies how user data becomes disposed and owned not by the user, but by an entity under control. Here in particular, the roles are divided into users who translate their data to a master.

Fig.3: Overview of Data$ein’s exploitive economic underpinnings are revealed.

In this prototype, user generated data becomes the property of the user who plays the ‘master position’ (Fig.3). By shaking the mobile device, the users who are subjugated to the master generate more data in an activity that is referred to as a ‘enjoying a data experience’. The abstract name in itself is what I attempt to generally describe as the activity that occurs when a user interacts with a device that gathers his/her personal data. This attribute is precisely what is being attempted to be quantified, monetised, commodified, and capitalised. The concealed mechanism behind this experience is the hidden layer of quantification of usage that becomes expropriated and managed by a player who is in control. This hidden layer is something that was attempted to be revealed in these dynamics of control and ownership of personal data. The interaction is meant to imitate the manner in which data that was dispossessed from a humans, becomes part of the evaluation of a corporation like Facebook, Amazon, Nike, FitBit and others. It is an attempt to highlight the functions of a system that abstract humans to symbolic data representations, and ascribe a monetary value onto their personal data.