Personal and Professional Data as a Source of Power in the Digital Capitalism
A great deal of interpersonal and public communication now takes place in digitalized environments. As technological capabilities develop, market logic expands into these environments. The general object of contemporary digitization, in the shift from analog to digital forms of communication, as Dan Schiller notes, ‘is to increase the economic efficiency of networks by allowing them to be shared more thoroughly and effectively among many users’ (Schiller, 2000: xv). Reasons for projecting oneself into a network and sharing personal and professional multimedia data through digital networks may vary from interpersonal communication to political representation. As Alison Hearn notes, ‘the reflexive project of the “self”, identified by Anthony Giddens as a hallmark of modernity, can now be understood as constituting a distinct form of labour’(Hearn, 2008:198). As she further explains, the goals is to ‘produce cultural value and, potentially, material profit.’ Commercial networking sites such as Facebook are constituted to map the language used to associate people with other people according to their personal preferences and behavioural patterns. In professional networks, politicians use networks and their own websites to communicate about themselves and governmental institutions use websites to inform the public about decision making. The technology of data mining enables the automatic classification, cluster, and finding of associations between the clusters in large amounts of clean data from which to extract information. These data models can be applied later for targeting market audiences (e.g., Amazon Books suggests that you buy a batch of books with the book you just chose), solving medical problems (e.g., the @neurist project aims at treating aneurisms), and other technologies such as cloud computing that can help to enhance the quality of reporting (e.g., the Document Cloud initiative, which collects governmental documents for computational journalism). Much government data in Lithuania such as voting results, parliamentary biographies, histories of party membership, and party funding is publicly available. However, the vast amounts of data complicate its personal use by the voter. There are several local initiatives working in the field in Lithuania such as the non-governmental initiative Atviras seimas (Open parliament). In addition, government information mechanisms such as Skatinimo planas (Encouragement plan) aimed at informing the public about matters such as financing business enterprises and law making. In my work, I would like to analyze existing mechanisms of data collection and data mining in social networks and marketing campaigns, in addition to available legal information on governmental decisions and existing local government monitoring projects. I would also like to conduct a social network analysis on networks of people, identifying their expectations and voting outcomes. Based on that research, I would like to address the possibilities of creating publicly beneficial, clear, and personalized government transparency mechanisms in Lithuania.