I am currently a PhD fellow at Copenhagen Business School in their Management, Philosophy and Politics department in cooperation with Leuphana University’s Digital Cultures Research Lab.
At the present moment I am researching search – how search organises society through interrelationships of search terminologies, financial networks of speculation, data exchange, hidden infrastructures and anonymity. The working title, Re:search: Against a personalisation of the self examines innovative and alternative ways to search, retrieve, and index information by unpacking two sets of meanings implicit in the word ‘re:search’: 1. Research as form: Analysing the cultural implications, archival methods, and indexing approaches of conducting research as an artistic practitioner and academic researcher (human). 2. Search an as action of seeking knowledge at the intersections of the technology industry of computational data and information retrieval (machinic).
My research intends to elucidate the aesthetics and alternative results of protected search and anonymity. It will attempt to expose the hidden infrastructures in which ‘personalisation’ is the hegemonic means that organises our experience of online search. This interdisciplinary approach situates itself in the context of the digital humanities and builds upon a discursive, material and practice-based exploration of online and offline search, through performative, ethnographic, archival, technological and curatorial methods. How do researchers (re)search? We read books, texts, articles and structure indexes and build our archives. We also type in search terms online in order to find information that we perhaps use for our research, in order to produce knowledge and disseminate it. Does this mode of operation differ from that of the artist practitioner, who also carries out research in order to produce knowledge?
At the present moment the method is an ethnography of the self, conducted on two computers: a ‘protected’ PC using Tor with a hidden IP address, the other a completely personalised Mac, where Google applies its algorithms to offer relevance and recommendations. What is personalisation and does it really provide ‘individualised’ search results to the user? Or does it construct a notion of the user through personalised search? Ultimately the study will show whether personalisation actually delivers more highly qualified search results geared to subjective desires, how personalisation benefits the advertiser (Google), the currency of ‘keywords’ along with the diversity created by protected (alternative) and anonymous search. Recursive in spirit regarding the research of search, this case study will concomitantly attempt to answer the call for ‘a poetics as such for this mysterious new machinic space.’ (Galloway, 2012: 11)