Aaron Zinman SM ′06 and the Sociable Media Group at the MIT Media Lab put together a tool that scours the internet and creates a digital snapshot or profile of who you are, according to the Web. Rife with false associations and mis-attributions—the result of computers’ inability to correlate common names with unique histories, the profiles that the tool churns out say as much about you as they do about every other person on the Web with your name, and by extension, the arbitrary nature of aggregated online identities.
Want to try it? Type in your name and the tool, called Personas, searches the web for references and attempts to characterize you by fitting you to a predetermined set of categories that an algorithmic process created from a huge body of data. Each stage of the analysis is depicted visually, finally resulting in the presentation of a seemingly authoritative personal portrait.
Here’s a glimpse of what my Personas profile looks like: