Like most people around my age, I grew up connected in the Infosphere, which is an environment populated by informational entities called inforgs). In elementary school and middle school, I had access to computers where I would make accounts and publish data of me online. I got my first smart-phone in middle school and, as social media became more popular, I started using social media. My parents always told me to be careful of what you put online since "once you put it online it stays there forever", so I was always conscious of what I would put online or on social media. Due to this and my eventual indifference towards posting social media, I barely posted on social media and believe that most of the data I would find online about me would be from old highschool events or from playing tennis, which is also from the same period of time. Therefore, I believe that my online Data Identity will not be reflective of who I am today, but merely static uploads, like screenshots, from past events in my life. Additionally, I believe that an accumulation of these screenshots will paint a narrow view of myself growing up.
Re-Ontologiziation of the Infosphere
In Luciano Floridi's Ethics After the Information Revolution, he elaborates on how ICT's(Information and Communication Technologies) have and are re-ontologizing the Infosphere An example of this is with the dominance of social media in daily life. Due to the re-ontologization my online data identity may have more of an impact in my life to other's than my actual identity. This is a concerning idea since my online data identity is most likely not representative of my current self.
I started with a simple google search for my name, "Ethan Aziz". A third of the results on the first page were actually about me, with all of them in the first four results. I was surprised to see this as when I searched my name years ago, I remember maybe seeing one or two results relevant to me and then the rest were about Aziz Ansari. The three records about me were all my social media, which were LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, respectively. This is somewhat unsurprising in that they are some of the things I browse on the most, but I also rarely post on these platforms.
This was the very first result that popped up in my google search and it reflects my academic and professional life. I think that my linkedIn has the most information about me, especially current information, than anywhere else that I would know about. If someone I didn't know asked me what online resource contained the most information about me, I would say linkedIn. It is the culmination of a headshot, where I went/go to school, where I've worked in the past, my technical skills, and more.
While all of this information is authentic as it is all true information about me, it is not all-encompassing. I certainly like to think that I focus on academics and my professional career, but this is the result of targeted wording in my bio and job descriptions to project the image I want others to see about me. The ideas on here are very stable as they are all positive and career oriented. I think my linkedIn functions as a great piece in current information about me, but is not a complete standalone resource.
Instagram and Facebook
Instagram is one my most used social medias, but I don't post on it, while I don't use Facebook at all. All a person could gain about me from going onto my profiles is my profile picture and a short bio. In the context of data mining, people would learn the most about me and would get a somewhat holistic view of me through my Instagram, but a normal person would not gain any information relevant to who I am today and only a slight amount of who I was when I made the account.
I then decided to search in google for my name coupled with keywords to try and find more information to try and create a more complete view of myself. I searched for "Ethan Aziz grosse pointe" and "Ethan Aziz tennis". This is my name coupled with my hometown and the sport I played the most growing up. I found a few pages of myself in my high school's paper and also I found a lot of articles of old high school tennis match results and summaries of myself throughout my highschool career. Additionally, I found USTA and team tennis histories from 2012-2014. I wasn't expecting to find as much as I did about myself with tennis and highschool, especially the team tennis information because of how old it was. I also didn't expect to find any information of myself at all of when i was younger than fifteen. All of this information is over five years old and was very representative of my interests outside of the classroom at the time. I think this builds a complete and authentic view image of a younger me.
I was surprised to see how much information actually was out there about me on the internet as I don't put much info out personally, but I was expecting my online image to be that of narrow view of a younger me. The information I gathered comprised mainly of an academic and professional current me, also with a younger me. This shows that my online image is not stable since it changed as time passed, but it does do a relatively good job in getting authentic information about myself. Additionally, while all of this information is authentic, I did find a lot of information that wasn't about me but still showed up when I was doing my google searches. Because of this, an average person that doesn't know me would have a hard time deciphering between Ethan Aziz, the student and tennis player, and other Ethan Aziz's, such as the Canadian highschool basketball player who has a state ranking of #2. I wasn't able to find anything negative about myself or anything related to my struggles, which I thought was very interesting but also made sense. People usually only put information about themselves online willingly if it portrays them in a positive light. I didn't find anything about how I was a transfer student from Michigan State(yes, I know) after my freshman year of college or anything related to how I've grown personally over the years. Yes, the data about me is accurate and is/was relevant at one point in time, but there is never enough total information about me to gain a well rounded view of who I actually am. What is seen of me is an academic student who used to play a lot of tennis. This has a big impact on how I'm perceived throughout the infosphere due to the re-ontologization of it from social media. An example of the implications of this is how most people look other people up on social media before they meet someone in person. Someone looking up myself beforehand would not see me for who I am currently. If I could find more information of my current self that isn't academic related and some of my transitions or struggles(such as transferring schools), I would believe that a person could gain a lot of relevant knowledge about me and make for a more complete image.
- Floridi, Luciano. (2010). “Ethics after the Information Revolution”. The Cambridge Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics. Cambridge University Press.