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I Couldn't Hide if I Tried

I Couldn't Hide if I Tried

I am currently interning for a woman up in New York who runs her own editing business, meaning that twice a week we Facetime for about 4-6 hours depending on the day and I complete tasks for her as she assigns them. Being that it is a virtual internship, almost all of my work is done online. The day I chose to track my contribution to Big Data started with me watching videos on YouTube on my TV, which does not have ad block on it so I found that the more videos I watched from a certain channel, the more the ads that popped up would change to reflect what I was watching. I was also doing research for my boss on Google Analytics, which is a service that tracks who is coming to her website and what they are looking at and for how long. I spent a couple hours doing research on Google Analytics, finding it oddly reflective of some of the things we discussed in this class. I also spent time researching other independent editors to see how their websites looked and what was working for them.

In addition to the research I was doing for my boss, I had my email open for the entire day to make sending and receiving documents from her easier. I also signed up for two new services to better our communication: Evernote and Asana. Evernote is a website/application that allows the sharing of “notes” digitally, meaning if I add a page from a website to my list of notes on Evernote, if it is in the right shared file my boss several states away can see it. Asana is a website that helps people get organized, and the way we use it is by her sharing a “project” with me (in this case her marketing to-do list) and as I complete the tasks assigned I can check them off and she will see that they are done.Screenshot of Mac dock, focusing on Evernote, Messages, Photoshop, Stickies, and Slack applications

All of that is just what I did for an internship, and when I add in time on Twitter, time logging into Moodle, time setting up a Voicethread account for my Arts and Design class, and time spent on Steam (where I had to add a phone number to my account because they have had security issues lately), my contributions to big data pile higher and higher.

Tracking all of that happened at the beginning of the semester, in January. Looking back at the semester, my contributions to Big Data are actually pretty large. I continued my remote internship, which we are now extending through the summer and the fall, I continued my online art course, and I did plenty of research and reading for my Digital Rhetoric class. The online art course required me uploading my work onto the Moodle page for the class in addition to uploading it to the Voicethread page for my group in the class and commenting on my own work and on others’ work. I also had to use the Moodle page to look at the lessons for the class where he taught us what he thought we needed to know about color theory.

Looking beyond my coursework and beyond my internship, I continued to contribute to Big Data through a number of apps and websites. Because I have chronic migraines and I’m in the process of switching neurologists, I am currently using an app called Migraine Buddy to track when I get migraines, what may have triggered them, what may have helped, how long they last, how much I sleep, and other factors relating to migraines. One data point that I didn’t consider may be a factor is the weather; the app tracks the weather and air pressure around me when I record a migraine, meaning it has permission to track my location. Because I am a biological female, I also put in when I record my migraines whether or not I am menstruating or about to menstruate. Collecting data from that app alone would give a company an idea of not only my neurological health, but also about where I am and other aspects of my health. In addition to that app, I am also using SHYE, or Show How You Eat, to track what food I am eating. This is also because of migraines; if I track what I eat and when, then I may be able to find a correlation between eating and migraines.

MRI Scan of Human (Author's) BrainAs far as social media goes, I barely use Facebook- the only time I check Facebook is when I either get a message from someone or when I want to clear the notification from my phone. I no longer have messenger on my phone because during my rhetoric class we discussed how much data messenger collects from phones (often without user’s knowledge). The social media that I use most often is Twitter; I have the app on my phone and I use it on my laptop as well. My Tuesday’s this semester began with me on my boss’s professional Twitter scheduling tweets and collecting analytics, but I also used my personal Twitter quite frequently. If someone wanted to look at my data points, they would see that I spend a significant amount of time on Twitter, clicking on articles that show up in both my personal and my boss’s feed, scheduling tweets for work to increase our social media presence, and even for my rhetoric class- I did a group project on the social network analysis for the hashtag #nottodaysatan, which lead to my looking on Twitter for an entire class period, retweeting enough that I briefly made it on to our visualization.

I also use Snapchat, and frequently use YouTube and Netflix on my TV, which would show that I watch a lot of Let’s Plays, British panel shows, and I tend to “re-watch” a lot of TV shows on Netflix (I put them on while I do work or something else, so I don’t actually watch them, but just looking at the data without context that would be almost impossible to know).

The contributions I make to Big Data indicate a few things about me- I’m interested in publishing, I like video games, I have a chronic illness, I’m trying to be more organized, and I read a lot of articles linked from Twitter. Those few statements are pretty accurate, but I wouldn’t say that’s all I am. It is not feasible, however, to opt out of contributing to Big Data. No matter where I go, I’m on a security camera, I’m on Wi-Fi, I’m using a debit card to pay for food- there is no way for me to get away from Big data. I’m continuing an internship with my boss, who lives several states away, so I need to use the Internet. Even if I wasn’t working for her, the Internet is such a big part of everyday life that to stop using it is not even an option.

No matter what I do, I have something tracking me. I wear a fitbit, so my activity is tracked that way; I have health apps so my health is tracked; I use Netflix and Youtube (I don’t actually have cable); I use a debit card and a credit card; I’m connected to Big Data no matter what. Mostly at this point, I’m just curious what all of my data says about me and how accurate is the compilation of data points?

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