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Are Google and Facebook brainwashing me?

There’s a place for customization and interactivity in digital art…. but not in my everyday search.

By Rosalie Morton (@rosaliemo)

Two weeks ago I headed up to New York to visit an awesome friend of mine, also a PR pro. I’d browsed through The New Yorker on my way up to figure out the “must-dos” for the weekend, and Talk to Me, at MoMA immediately caught my eye. My friend and I went… and let’s just say it was digital PR heaven.

MoMaTalk to Me investigates the convergence of technology, design and communication. From the get-go, we loved the interactivity. QR codes by each exhibit offered a deeper look. And hashtags by each exhibit had both of us tweeting about our favorite pieces. Here were a few of my favorites:

MyBlockNYC.com– This interactive map reminds me of CNN iReports. You can click on any block in NYC to see videos that from the specific area that anyone is able to upload to the map. From Jimmy Justice to Mookie and Bookie, the project gives a fun inside look at the city and the people who love it. I love the way it merges interactive digital art with everyday life.

SMSlingshot – This project is phenomenal, and it would make such a fun PR stunt. Users take a digital “slingshot” and enter their messages into it like a text. Then, they pull back and fling their messages onto a digital billboard, where they appear larger than life, like splattered paintballs (watch the video… my description is mediocre at best). The idea that this could be like vandalism—paintballs on a clean wall—but instead it’s digital art, and not negative at all, is such an interesting juxtaposition.

Wilderness Downtown– I am a total Arcade Fire fan… This project takes their song, and turns it into a unique, user-driven experience. At the beginning of the video, you enter your hometown, and the video works with Google Earth to create a unique experience to you, setting the your hometown. This creates a much more meaningful video, as it evokes emotions from each viewer that a generic video could not.

The way I see it, there are two prongs to this interactive art:

1- We are able to create the art ourselves and add to the greater piece (Like MyBlockNYC and SMSlingshot)

2- We enter our information and the art caters to our preferences (like Wilderness Downtown)

From a creative perspective, I find this incredibly thought-provoking and limitless in the possibilities. I think that it challenges art, technology and communications.

But when this use of our personal preferences and interests moves beyond art and into our everyday lives, I’m a bit more reserved.

this-is-your-brain-on-google1I’ll explain—I don’t like it that when I’m logged into Google, my search results cater to my preferences, which Google’s algorithms have determined. I also don’t like that my Facebook newsfeed mostly shows news from people that Facebook deems I’m interested in, due to how often I look at their profiles and appear in their pictures.

With Google influencing my search results and Facebook influencing my friendships… who knows what I could be missing.

I worry that these customizations* will make me narrow-minded. It scares me.

Anyways, enough about me… What do you think?

Image credit: MoMA and BabyBanter

*I know, I know I just need to sign out of Google and I can have a generic search… but then, I can’t just simply click into Gmail and Google+ from Google’s homepage. Like most people, I’m a sucker for convenience.

About Rosalie Morton:

As an account supervisor, Rosalie leads PadillaCRT clients’ traditional and social media relations initiatives and provides crisis counsel. She has successfully placed speakers at high-profile industry conferences, submitted winning award entries, planned events and media tours, managed social media campaigns, served as editor for client blogs and garnered placements in top-tier traditional and social media. She can often be seen on the third floor of the Richmond office, trying to find her dog, Petey, who has most likely snuck into someone else's office to beg for food.

One Comment on “Are Google and Facebook brainwashing me?

  1.  by  Sean

    Yup, totally true. I think it might be intentional to narrow your ability to expand your access to information. Or simply limit your freedom to access information. It sucks, I’m a web developer so I work around the “personalized for you” bullshit filters that are popping up on an array of networks i.e. facebook google etc. Best bet is to find alternative trusted networks. Obviously not Facebook and unfortunately Google is also becoming a victim to censorship of important information. So forget both and find alternatives. If there’s a will then there’s a way. Feel free to shoot me an email and we can discuss the dynamics of where the internet is heading. It’s worth your time lol.

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