How the Internet sees me, apparently

MIT Personas image for Stilgherrian: click to embiggen

This image is supposedly some sort of profile of me, concocted from data gathered on the Internet by Personas, a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, currently on display at the MIT Museum.

I have no idea why such a big proportion is allocated to sport. But, hey, play with it yourself.

16 Replies to “How the Internet sees me, apparently”

  1. I used my real name, my nickname & my Twitter username and got completely different results each time.

    The least accurate? My real name. Too many others with the same name as mine.

  2. @Liz and @Sean Carmody: I’m amused by the explanation:

    Personas scours the web for information and attempts to characterize the person — to fit them to a predetermined set of categories that an algorithmic process created from a massive corpus of data. The computational process is visualized with each stage of the analysis, finally resulting in the presentation of a seemingly authoritative personal profile.


    In a world where fortunes are sought through data-mining vast information repositories, the computer is our indispensable but far from infallible assistant. Personas demonstrates the computer’s uncanny insights and its inadvertent errors, such as the mischaracterizations caused by the inability to separate data from multiple owners of the same name. It is meant for the viewer to reflect on our current and future world, where digital histories are as important if not more important than oral histories, and computational methods of condensing our digital traces are opaque and socially ignorant.

    Are they just saying it’s all made-up rubbish?

  3. It certainly sounds as though, at the very least, they’re are counselling against reading anything very much into their analysis. Or anyone else’s for that matter.

  4. In my case there are too many people who share the name I use online and as the commentary that gives rise to the graph flashes by I saw only one direct reference to myself.

    People with my name have an assortment of roles on-line.

    In your case sport moves in conjunction with the information it finds as it trawls the net and I guess if you really want to know why it rates you highly on sport you need some way of capturing the information flow as it defines your profile. It’s too fast for me.

  5. Interesting. I did the same thing as some of the above – tried different versions of my online identities, including trying the same name several times. My sir name however contains a unique Danish letter, and it doesn’t accept it…

    It’s all made-up rubbish!


  6. I get different results every time I use my real name — and I’m fairly certain I’m the only “Sabian Wilde”

  7. @ Stiigherrian: Hm, that’s a rethorial question 🙂
    @ Sean; Yes.

    The idea is great, but needs to be refined. Or maybe I don’t get it 🙂


  8. @Sabian: My name is definitely unique globally, and I’m seeing different results on each run too. Even if it’s collecting the data live on each run, the Internet’s knowledge of me can’t change that fast. So is it randomised in some way? Or is it all rubbish? And do I even care?

  9. I must admit that I ran it twice because I couldn’t believe that after 10 or 15 years of online writing, I came up an even 50/50 split between aggression and arts.

    That combo never came up again…

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