Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I was contemplating Cliff High's (halfpasthuman.com) methodology for tapping into the collective psyche via linguistics when Twitter lept into my mind. Just as Facebook has some spurious background, i.e. CIA links, Harvard origins, which are said to be using the data to develop algorithms that can yield automated predictions as to social or emotional trends, it occurred to me that Twitter offers any agencies with a vested interest in real time data as to our collective psychological outpourings a veritable gold mine of opportunity. Imagine, if you had access to billions of impressions of raw data from the collective (subconscious) tweetings of the public at large. You could tailor your headline news, advertising and the like to target an already receptive audience. Real time social control.
Just as Cliff High tells us of collective social trends via his algorithm software, with the express purpose of giving humanity a heads up as to what's headed our way, so too can the society's controllers use the data gathered from Facebook, and similar technologies, to engineer emotional outcomes, decisions and preferences. As with Facebook, Twitter grew its roots from serious venture capital in Silicon Valley with some of the same people that are in the founding profiles of Linkedin and Facebook.
I do not know enough about Twitter technology to know if the same date mining that Facebook is said to be capable of is even possible with Twitter. My geek side is underdeveloped. But, conceptually, it seems that there are both concerning and enlightening possibilities embedded within such technologies. Concerning in that it can, and likely will be, used for control. Enlightening in that it allows spontaneous evolutionary thought to be transmitted at lightning speed. The proverbial double edged sword pops to mind.
Personally, I've had an instinctive aversion to Facebook from day one and, after hearing middle age adults complaining about being un-friended, I understand why. From a social point of view, it seems to bring up all of our unresolved high school trauma of acceptance and rejection. But that's another conversation.