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Reading each other's diaries

Various institutions monitor activity on the internet, from standard online behaviour to shopping activities and intimate private data insights. The data outcomes are consequently shared, sold, bought, managed, analysed and applied. User profiles- as oddly artificial representation of the user- are being set up according to the online traces that extend far into one’s digital past.

Michel Foucault’s panopticon theory, based on the work of Jeremy Bentham, noted the behaviour of prison inmates who were conscious of their behaviour in observation, thus controlling and monitoring their own actions. The digital equivalent in a technological age can be argued when internet users modify their own online activity when aware of their digital traces. Thus, the user has entered an age where society’s ability to forget has become suspended through an ever-present and ever-recording digital memory. Individuals more often have to justify their actions that would otherwise be left in the past. Yet most remain passive at technology’s ‘asking’ of data, whereas they are actively reluctant and suspicious of sharing such information with other humans.

This product is exploring these tensions of the internet sphere. It is the product of one person who was willing to allow their Google search history to be seen and analysed. The history spans from 2010 to 2016, with more than 2000 searches in regular 3 month intervals. As a process, I conducted workshops with students and their search queries, designed a live performance, a banner, and a book.