Personas is a fascinating component of the Metropath(ologies) art installation, currently on display at the MIT Museum.
The project can generate on demand, a dramatic and colorful data visualization of a person’s online identity, using nothing more than the person’s full name. It does this by scouring the internet with the help of natural language processing techniques and a customized search engine API.
The generated results may not be entirely accurate, but that is exactly what the creators of the project had in mind.
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.
Link to the site.