What is your research essay about?
“Big Brother likes our status” (research essay) - is an investigation into the behaviour humans exhibit when they communicate. We teach ourselves that careful construction of interaction and exchange of knowledge is very important because it is what defined our identities. Throughout history, through numerous (technical) revolutions, this has changed but always remained a process of growth under our control. Why is it that once our communication uses the Internet as a medium, we succumb to a majority that agrees with very ‘sloppy’ interactions? Developments are focused towards being able to communicate everywhere, all the time.
This research raises the question whether the evolution of identity is still under our control with the focus on quantity & enabling, rather than quality & improvement by the new Gods of Internet technology: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft and the likes.
Which findings do you consider most important?
“The Data Tsunami” (information graphic video) - The process of information-knowledge conversion on the Internet is not entirely visible, thus not completely under our control. There are two dominant factors. Firstly, we have created a hidden layer where computer-programs perform the task of ordering all our data. Secondly, our (digital) identities have become the de-facto currency on the Internet. Big companies like Google, Microsoft, and giants in the social media like Facebook and Twitter capitalize on the fact that they know how to control the process and we do not.
The Internet, however, is very much like (an) ecology. As much as the services and functions of the World Wide Web are built and in control of for example Google; new ideas, new methods, new demands, new ways will be discovered, by its users and contributed to the Cloud. Survival of the fittest applies to this new stream of ideas, but there will always be room for radicals, mutations, and bifurcations, which can’t be controlled nor predicted, let alone: be removed. (An observation: Google now facilitates our productivity, and encourages us to contribute to the Cloud (via their services)).
What was your personal experience in doing the research and writing the essay? Do you use the research findings?
I was first educated as engineer, wanting to know how everything works. I seek innovation and think of new ways to use existing technologies or invent new ones. One of the strange urges that comes with being an engineer is that I like to explain things, to see if I can get the knowledge across. Trained as an editorial designer, I assume I have the required knowledge to do this.
The research and essay condensed into a short motion-/infographics video. Inspired and deliberately made to resemble currently existing video’s as found on YouTube and passed from forum to blog posts. All of my work allowed me to ask very nasty questions and discover hideous flaws in systems of the social media. I am not paranoid, but it made me look very critically at the developments of the Internet and especially the services in the Cloud offered by the parties like Google, and Facebook.
How do you look back at the year at MaHKU?
I completed the Master in two years because I had a full-time job at the University of Groningen as scientific programmer. Both years were very different. The first year I had to brush up on skills as a designer and forgot to be a scientist (which produced non-critical, non-self-reflected research). The second year I focused more on what others were doing and was able to relate to both fields more equally. I was supported along the way by good and sometimes unorthodox teaching, knowing when to intervene and especially when not to. The whole experience was great, taught me lots of things also not related to editorial design for which I am grateful.