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What is the Data Self?

What do we mean by the data self? Here, Dr David Beer explains how we live in an environment where the amount of data accumulated about us is huge, and contemplates how this might affect the way that we behave in ‘real life’.

What do we mean by the data self? Here, Dr David Beer explains how we live in an environment where the amount of data accumulated about us is huge, and contemplates how this might affect the way that we behave in ‘real life’.

Your Data Self

In the video David uses the example of the data held on football players to enable managers (and potential managers) to analyse those players and their game. He indicates that this could lead to players becoming risk averse as they want to aim towards ‘pass completion’. You may be thinking that this level of data accumulation doesn’t apply to you, but a simple example of where it does is the personalisation of web-based services: this could be suggestions on Netflix based on your viewing history, the personalisation of search results based on your location and search history, or purchase recommendations on Amazon. In such ways, the data collected on us may have an impact on what we read, view or buy.

The Data Self Delusion

An example of the data self and how this applies to the everyday person is amusingly (or perhaps scarily) portrayed in a recent advertising campaign for the credit reporting agency Experian. In the ‘Introducing your data self’ advert, Dan’s data self is presented as more successful than the real life Dan. This says something about how we might view ourselves in different lights, online and offline: it could be a positive – the opportunity to present a different version of ourselves through the data we provide online – but there could be negative impacts on our wellbeing and how we view ourselves in the ‘real world’.

What are your thoughts on this notion of the data self? What examples of personalisation have you encountered based on data capture about you? Does this data capture have an impact on how you behave? …the information and media that you consume? …the opportunities presented to you?

References

Beer, D. (2018). “Cambridge analytica: the data analytics industry is already in full swing”. The Conversation, 23 March 2018.

Beer, D. (2018) “The power of our social media data”. Discover Society.

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