IxD Class of 2014 by the Mechanical Turk

Made by Brynn Shepherd


This book is an exploration of the traces of identity we leave behind on the Internet. Using the Facebook Graph API, I compiled lists of the likes and interests of everyone in our Urban Fictions class, as stated on each person’s Facebook profile. I then used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to distribute these lists to anonymous workers. I provided each worker with the following instructions: “Read a list of a person’s Facebook likes, then describe that person based on their likes. What is their personality? How do they spend their time? What might an average day be like for them?” I also asked the worker to draw a picture of the person. After compiling this data, I sent out a secondary survey to my classmates asking them to identify each other based solely on the descriptions and drawings I received from Mechanical Turk.

The following pages contain the results of the two surveys. For each person in the class, I’ve presented the Mechanical Turk description and drawing alongside their real photo, their biography from the SVA IxD department website, and the list of their Facebook likes. Towards the back, I’ve also included some analysis and visualization of the secondary identification survey.

With this project, I’m interested in the relationship between the projections of ourselves that exist digitally and our internal sense of self. It’s easy to lose track of the various digital versions of ourselves we’ve saved somewhere online, and the identify we intend to project may differ from how we’re perceived. As the strength of our collective digital fingerprint increases, it’s important that we be made aware of its traces and effects.

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