Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have released an online tool that attempts to characterize your digital persona based on data mining of online resources.
Right now the tool is in the fun and exploratory phase, but it offers food for thought. Have you ever wondered what your digital fingerprints might look like, if there were a way to represent them?
For example, here’s an expression of the digital persona for Christine Thompson (courtesy of Aaron Zinman of MIT Media Lab):
This visualization conveys the impression that there are many facets to Christine Thompson – too many to be credible, or relevant to me. The specific facets of the persona shown here result from limitations in this beta-stage tool, which casts too wide a net.
Why? The digital persona shown above is actually a composite of the many people who share the name “Christine Thompson.” This composite set of impressions becomes very clear when you watch the data mining process in action (assuming your name is not unique to you). It’s amusing to see references to many other people who share your name, if not your persona.
The persona looks a bit different when further qualified by the name of my consulting firm:
But this representation is still not accurate, due to the relative importance of news and music as key dimensions of this fictitious persona. Because I’m neither musical nor newsworthy, this must be a consequence of my firm’s use of common English words in the company name.
I wish there were a way to calibrate and focus what drives MIT’s data mining persona tool. If results were more accurate, it might be interesting to track progress over time to changes in your digital persona. These changes might reflect shifts in the relative importance of key aspects of your online persona, based on the footprints you leave through blogs, product reviews, newsworthy activities, online comments, tweets, what other people say about you, and so on.
But for now, it’s just amusing.