Floodwatch: Collecting Ad Algorithms to Paint Unflattering Portraits

On the excellent art/design website magazine It’s Nice That, they recently reviewed the Frequency Arts Festival in Lincoln, UK. Much of the festival’s work is inspired by the positive and negative aspects of our relationship with social media and digital technology.

Some of the artists’ works were especially intriguing, including The Office for Creative Research’s Ad Infinitum, an installation that shows the summation of individual’s online exposure to ads, and the kind of picture it paints about us. Essentially the artists collected data through a Chrome extension called Floodwatchan app that collects all the ad data that each person encounters in their daily travels online. This data, over time starts to provide trends, which begins to create a unique ad profile for each individual being tracked. This speaks to the various algorithms that are being used to track our online interactions, and the often ugly picture that it represents. The video below does a fantastic job of explaining exactly what Floodwatch does:

Perhaps because I am on a school laptop I wasn’t able to log-in to this app, but at home I’m looking forward to trying again to see what patterns show up in my own day to day online experience. Go give it a try. It looks to be a big wake up call in regards to how many ads we are subjected to on a daily basis, and what our collected ad algorithm makes us out to look like.




2 thoughts on “Floodwatch: Collecting Ad Algorithms to Paint Unflattering Portraits

  1. Jeremy, thanks for sharing this! I checked out the video and now I want to check out Floodwatch. Interesting that it’s sponsored by a car company?? Anyways, I’m now getting a sense that Big Brother is watching, but it’s not government… just our corporate world. I will definitely share this with colleagues and teachers. Creepy and interesting all in one…

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