Data mining visualization
Image source: Richard Lees Website
Note: The following interview was originally published on Digicult in February 2009. The introduction has been translated from the Italian by Lucrezia Cippitelli. It is here published as originally written. I would like to give a humble thanks to Lucrezia for her introduction, which I think gives me more credit than deserved.
Three years ago I had a long interview with Eduardo Navas about his editorial project, newmediaFIX, the online platform that republishes and redistributes texts and interviews from the most influential international magazines focused on art and media (between them Digicult) and which I collaborated with as editor for almost one year. Recently, I met Eduardo again by e-mail for another interview about his last online project, “Traceblog,” launched on October 2008. ”
The artist, theorist, curator and scholar from the United States works on software and web-resources for blogging. He reflects upon the dynamics of the Internet, the concept of Remix and distribution of concepts and information in culture, since the beginning of his artistic career. He is now one of the most influential voices on network cultures and use/abuse of its tools. As Eduardo asserts in this long chat, referring to “Traceblog” but it could be related with his art practice at large: “I aim to explore the implications of the growing pervasiveness of information flow and its manipulation. From this point of view, I see it in direct relation to my ongoing investment in blogging culture.”
In line with his early net art projects as Goobalization and Diary of a Star, while simultaneously following Eduardo’s theoretical researches on blogging and remix, “Traceblog” is an online artwork that appropriates the free Firefox plug-in (Track me not), created by NYU developers and researchers Daniel C. Howe and Helen Nissenbaum. The plug-in is designed to obfuscate the transparency of the online activities of Internet users. As result, “Traceblog” publishes the pseudo logs of Eduardo’s daily online searches and activities on a web site http://navasse.net/traceblog/. The same website contains links to the explanation of the project, links to the Firefox plug-in and some tools that make users aware on how to hide search trails.
“Traceblog” makes visible how our daily Internet activity is tracked by the browser we use and produces an archive of all our data and information that could be used for commercial and control purposes. A fact is that data mining is totally out of control if we consider all the web 2.0 platforms, that stimulate Internet users’ obsession to expose themselves and constantly be in touch: just consider common tools as Blogger, propriety of a big commercial corporation as Google, just to make an example. We could name a few others such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and also (although they are not related with browsing), Skype, Msn, the free services for email and so on and so on… We talked with Eduardo about all that and much more.