Google’s Free App Analyzes Your Selfie and Then Finds Your Doppelganger in Museum Portraits

Hav­ing the abil­i­ty to vir­tu­al­ly explore the his­to­ry, back sto­ries, and cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance of art­works from over a thou­sand muse­ums gen­er­ates nowhere near the excite­ment as a fea­ture allow­ing users to upload self­ies in hopes of locat­ing an Insta­gram-wor­thy dop­pel­gänger some­where in this vast dig­i­tal col­lec­tion.

On the oth­er hand, if this low-brow inno­va­tion leads great hordes of mil­len­ni­als and iGen-ers to cross the thresh­olds of muse­ums in over 70 coun­tries, who are we to crit­i­cize?

So what if their pri­ma­ry moti­va­tion is snap­ping anoth­er self­ie with their Flem­ish Renais­sance twin? As long as one or two devel­op a pas­sion for art, or a par­tic­u­lar muse­um, artist, or peri­od, we’re good.

Alas, some dis­grun­tled users (prob­a­bly Gen X‑ers and Baby Boomers) are giv­ing the Google Arts & Cul­ture app (iPhone-Android) one-star reviews, based on their inabil­i­ty to find the only fea­ture for which they down­loaded it.

Allow us to walk you through.

After installing the app (iPhone-Android) on your phone or tablet, scroll down the home­page to the ques­tion “Is your por­trait in a muse­um?”

The sam­pling of art­works fram­ing this ques­tion sug­gest that the answer may be yes, regard­less of your race, though one need not be a Gueril­la Girl to won­der if Cau­casian users are draw­ing their match­es from a far larg­er pool than users of col­or…

Click “get start­ed.” (You’ll have to allow the app to access your device’s cam­era.)

Take a self­ie. (I sup­pose you could hedge your bets by switch­ing the cam­era to front-fac­ing ori­en­ta­tion and aim­ing it at a pleas­ing pre-exist­ing head­shot.)

The app will imme­di­ate­ly ana­lyze the self­ie, and with­in sec­onds, boom! Say hel­lo to your five clos­est match­es.

In the name of sci­ence, I sub­ject­ed myself to this process, grin­ning as if I was sit­ting for my fourth grade school pic­ture. I and received the fol­low­ing results, none of them high­er than 47%:

Vic­to­rio C. Edades’ Moth­er and Daugh­ter (flat­ter­ing­ly, I was pegged as the daugh­ter, though at 52, the resem­blance to the moth­er is a far truer match.)

Gus­tave Courbet’s Jo, la Belle Irlandaise (Say what? She’s got long red hair and skin like Snow White!)

Hen­ry Inman’s por­trait of Pres­i­dent Mar­tin Van Buren’s daugh­ter-in-law and defac­to White House host­ess, Angel­i­ca Sin­gle­ton Van Buren (Well, she looks ….con­ge­nial. I do enjoy par­ties…)

 and Sir Antho­ny van Dyck’s post-mortem paint­ing of Vene­tia, Lady Dig­by, on her Deathbed (Um…)

Hop­ing that a dif­fer­ent pose might yield a high­er match I chan­neled artist Nina Katchadouri­an, and adopt­ed a more painter­ly pose, unsmil­ing, head cocked, one hand lyri­cal­ly rest­ing on my breast­bone… for good mea­sure, I moved away from the win­dow. This time I got:

Joseph Stella’s Boy with a Bag­pipe (Maybe this wasn’t such a hot idea with regard to my self-image?)

Cipri­ano Efsio Oppo Por­trait of Isabel­la (See above.)

Adolph Tidemand’s Por­trait of Guro Sil­vers­dat­ter Tra­ven­dal (Is this uni­verse telling me it’s Babush­ka Time?)

Johannes Chris­tiann Janson’s A Woman Cut­ting Bread (aka Renounce All Van­i­ty Time?)

and Anders Zorn’s Madon­na (This is where the mean cheer­leader leaps out of the bath­room stall and calls me the horse from Guer­ni­ca, right?)

Mer­ci­ful­ly, none of these results topped the 50% mark, nor did any of the exper­i­ments I con­duct­ed using self­ies of my teenage son (whose 4th clos­est match had a long white beard).

Per­haps there are still a few bugs to work out?

If you’re tempt­ed to give Google Arts and Culture’s exper­i­men­tal por­trait fea­ture a go, please let us know how it worked out by post­ing a com­ment below. Maybe we’re twins, I mean, triplets!

If such folderol is beneath you, please avail your­self of the app’s orig­i­nal fea­tures:

  • Zoom Views — Expe­ri­ence every detail of the world’s great­est trea­sures
  • Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty — Grab your Google Card­board view­er and immerse your­self in arts and cul­ture
  • Browse by time and col­or — Explore art­works by fil­ter­ing them by col­or or time peri­od
  • Vir­tu­al tours — Step inside the most famous muse­ums in the world and vis­it icon­ic land­marks
  • Per­son­al col­lec­tion — Save your favorite art­works and share your col­lec­tions with friends
  • Near­by — Find muse­ums and cul­tur­al events around you
  • Exhibits — Take guid­ed tours curat­ed by experts
  • Dai­ly digest — Learn some­thing new every time you open the app
  • Art Rec­og­niz­er — Learn more about art­works at select muse­ums by point­ing your device cam­era at them, even when offline
  • Noti­fi­ca­tions — sub­scribe to receive updates on the top arts & cul­ture sto­ries

Down­load Google Arts and Cul­ture or update to Ver­sion 6.0.17 here (for Mac) or here (for Android).

Note: We’re get­ting reports that the app does­n’t seem to be avail­able in every geo­graph­i­cal loca­tion. If it’s not avail­able where you live, we apol­o­gize in advance.

via Good House­keep­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Google Gives You a 360° View of the Per­form­ing Arts, From the Roy­al Shake­speare Com­pa­ny to the Paris Opera Bal­let

Google Art Project Expands, Bring­ing 30,000 Works of Art from 151 Muse­ums to the Web

Google Cre­ates a Dig­i­tal Archive of World Fash­ion: Fea­tures 30,000 Images, Cov­er­ing 3,000 Years of Fash­ion His­to­ry

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The U.S. National Archives Launches an Animated GIF Archive: See Whitman, Twain, Hemingway & Others in Motion

Does it mat­ter to you if some peo­ple insist on pro­nounc­ing GIF with a hard “g” rather than say­ing “Jiff,” as if they were telling you when they’d get back from the store? (I freely admit, I’m one of those peo­ple.) Well then, you, read­er, cer­tain­ly belong to a core audi­ence for the Nation­al Archives and Records Administration’s online library of ani­mat­ed “jiffs.” Clear­ly NARA knows the cor­rect pro­nun­ci­a­tion, since they announce their new col­lec­tion with the dat­ed pun “Get­ting’ Giphy With It.” And they know what the inter­net needs most from them in times like these: “qual­i­ty ani­mat­ed GIFs from a rep­utable source.”

NARA’s archive of jerky, silent, dig­i­tal mov­ing pic­tures resides at their GIPHY chan­nel, and con­tains an “ani­mat­ed his­to­ry of all fla­vors includ­ing major his­toric events, celebri­ties, Nation­al Parks, news­reels, ani­mat­ed patents, danc­ing sailors,” etc…

“… wait, what’s that?,” you say, “ani­mat­ed patents”? Yes. Admit­ted­ly, not all of the collection’s GIFs make the quip­pi­est of reac­tion shots. The archive does, as Alli­son Meier writes at Hyper­al­ler­gic, “tell US his­to­ry in motion.” But ani­mat­ed images of sta­t­ic photos—some dat­ing from before the days of animation—tend to look a lit­tle stiff, as in the GIF below, made from two dif­fer­ent expo­sures of a Walt Whit­man por­trait. Or the already exceed­ing­ly stiff por­trait fur­ther down of a young Mark Twain and friend.

Meier com­pares these GIF anachro­nisms to the New York Pub­lic Library’s “Stere­ograni­ma­tor,” a neat online tool that allows us to expe­ri­ence a 19th cen­tu­ry mechan­i­cal ver­sion of the GIF. In that regard, they join anti­quar­i­an inter­est with dig­i­tal curios­i­ty. But when we think of ani­mat­ed GIFs, we gen­er­al­ly think of weird lit­tle vignettes, like the image at the top, which shows us archi­tect William Van Alen dressed as his famous Chrysler Build­ing, from a 1931 gath­er­ing of the Soci­ety of Beaux-Arts Archi­tects (which we’ve fea­tured in a pre­vi­ous post).

You’ll find plen­ty of nos­tal­gic GIFS, such as (if you’re a GenX’er) that of Woody the “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pol­lute” pub­lic ser­vice owl, above.

Nat­u­ral­ly, the archive con­tains its share of images with world his­tor­i­cal significance—like the explod­ing swasti­ka in Nurem­berg from the end of World War II, above—and cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance, such as the tip­pling Hem­ing­way and boy­ish Bea­t­les, below.

Scenes from clas­sic films and TV shows, adver­tise­ments and pub­lic ser­vice cam­paigns… the resource “cur­rent­ly has over 150 NARA GIFs,” writes Meier, “with more con­tin­u­ing to be added.” Is this a pub­lic­i­ty stunt? Absolute­ly. “GIFs help keep us rel­e­vant,” remarks Dar­ren Cole of the Nation­al Archives, “but also fur­ther the agency’s mis­sion of pro­vid­ing access to our hold­ings to the pub­lic.”

In light of the pop­u­lar­i­ty of “his­to­ry image accounts” on social media, notes Meier, the NARA GIFs “are a savvy ini­tia­tive to con­nect a wider audi­ence with the rich­ness of the Nation­al Archives”—a way that allows users to accu­rate­ly doc­u­ment sources and place images in con­text. Each GIF on the NARA chan­nel links back to the Nation­al Archives Cat­a­log, with var­i­ous lev­els of descrip­tion and sourc­ing infor­ma­tion. Gim­mick or no, it’s a pret­ty cool resource full of some pret­ty cool GIFs—even, believe it or not, those “ani­mat­ed patents.”

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The New York Pub­lic Library Lets You Down­load 180,000 Images in High Res­o­lu­tion: His­toric Pho­tographs, Maps, Let­ters & More

Some of Buster Keaton’s Great, Death-Defy­ing Stunts Cap­tured in Ani­mat­ed Gifs

The His­to­ry of Rus­sia in 70,000 Pho­tos: New Pho­to Archive Presents Russ­ian His­to­ry from 1860 to 1999

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

100,000 Free Art History Texts Now Available Online Thanks to the Getty Research Portal

paul klee getty portal

“I have always imag­ined that Par­adise will be a kind of library,” Jorge Luis Borges famous­ly wrote. Were he alive today, he might well regard the inter­net as becom­ing more par­a­disi­a­cal all the time, at least in the sense that it keeps not just gen­er­at­ing new texts, but absorb­ing exist­ing ones and mak­ing them avail­able free to read­ers.

And while his well-known sto­ry “The Library of Babel” envi­sions a mag­i­cal or extreme­ly high-tech library con­tain­ing all pos­si­ble texts (which the inter­net has start­ed to make a real­i­ty), recent addi­tions to the vast library of the inter­net have done him one bet­ter by incor­po­rat­ing not just pages of let­ters, but intri­cate­ly designed and lav­ish­ly illus­trat­ed art texts as well.

raven matisse

Take the Get­ty Research Por­tal, which has just, for its fourth anniver­sary, unveiled a new design and a total vol­ume count sur­pass­ing 100,000. “In assem­bling a vir­tu­al cor­pus of dig­i­tized texts on art, archi­tec­ture, mate­r­i­al cul­ture, and relat­ed fields from numer­ous part­ners, the Por­tal aspires to offer a more expan­sive col­lec­tion than any sin­gle library could pro­vide,” writes project con­tent spe­cial­ist Annie Rana at the Get­ty’s blog The Iris. “Fur­ther­more, with these freely down­load­able mate­ri­als, schol­ars and researchers can now be in pos­ses­sion of copies of rare books and oth­er titles with­out hav­ing to trav­el to far-flung locales.”

OC Getty Portal Kandinsky

More than twen­ty insti­tu­tions now share their col­lec­tions at the Get­ty Research Por­tal: recent join­ers include the Art Insti­tute of Chicago’s Ryer­son and Burn­ham Libraries, the Bib­lio­the­ca Hertziana-Max Planck Insti­tute for Art His­to­ry in Rome, the Her­zog August Bib­lio­thek in Wolfen­büt­tel, the Menil Library Col­lec­tion in Hous­ton, the Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um Library and Archives in New York, and the War­burg Insti­tute Library in Lon­don. But wait, says Rana, there’s more, or at least more on the way: “Dia­logues with art libraries and insti­tu­tions in India, Iran, and Japan are in the works as the project also looks to increase inter­na­tion­al cov­er­age.”

OC Getty Portal The Building in Japan

Still, the selec­tion of items looks quite inter­na­tion­al already. The post high­lights a few items of high poten­tial inter­est to Open Cul­ture read­ers, such as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven illus­trat­ed by Edouard Manet and trans­lat­ed into French by Stéphane Mal­lar­mé, as well as a mono­graph on, an exhi­bi­tion cat­a­log about the work of, and writ­ings by the Russ­ian abstract painter and art the­o­rist Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky. But even though the Get­ty Research Por­tal seems only to have plans to grow larg­er and larg­er, every­one brows­ing through it will sure­ly find some­thing suit­ed to their artis­tic inter­ests, from Paul Klee (top) to Roy Licht­en­stein to Japan­ese archi­tec­ture and every­thing in between; you have only to step through the por­tal to find it.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1.8 Mil­lion Free Works of Art from World-Class Muse­ums: A Meta List of Great Art Avail­able Online

815 Free Art Books from World Class Muse­ums: The Met, the Guggen­heim, the Get­ty & LACMA

Down­load 448 Free Art Books from The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

The Guggen­heim Puts 109 Free Mod­ern Art Books Online

Down­load Over 250 Free Art Books From the Get­ty Muse­um

Down­load 35,000 Works of Art from the Nation­al Gallery, Includ­ing Mas­ter­pieces by Van Gogh, Gau­guin, Rem­brandt & More

Read Free Dig­i­tal Art Cat­a­logues from 9 World-Class Muse­ums, Thanks to the Pio­neer­ing Get­ty Foun­da­tion

Google Puts Over 57,000 Works of Art on the Web

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Explore Harvard’s Iconic Spaces with 360° Interactive Videos

For me, noth­ing cap­tures those occa­sion­al feel­ings of post-grad­u­ate yearn­ing like “I Wish I Could Go Back to Col­lege,” a N‑quite-SFW track from the Broad­way musi­cal, Avenue Q.

With all due respect, it feels like the five mem­bers of Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s just-grad­u­at­ed Class of 2016 shar­ing their rec­ol­lec­tions in the inter­ac­tive 360° video project, Har­vard Stu­dents Say Farewell, left a few cru­cial details out. (Note: Youtube 360 videos only work in Chrome, Fire­fox, Inter­net Explor­er, or Opera browsers.)

It’s com­plete­ly safe for prospec­tive par­ents, not a keg or con­dom wrap­per in sight. (The project is host­ed on Harvard’s offi­cial Youtube chan­nel.)

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, Har­vard appears to have been the par­tic­i­pants’ uni­ver­sal first choice of col­lege. Hasty Pud­ding per­former, Joshuah Camp­bell, above, a self-described “Black kid from the coun­try,” con­fides that it was the only place he applied to.

He may have arrived won­der­ing how he would fit in, but four years lat­er, his grub­by dorm room is one of the “icon­ic” Har­vard loca­tions view­ers can explore dig­i­tal­ly as he briefly reflects upon his expe­ri­ence.

That’s about as down and dirty as this series gets. The human sub­jects seem to have been select­ed with an eye toward diver­si­ty and humil­i­ty, rather than the clenched Boston Brah­min jaw that once defined the insti­tu­tion.

Mean­while, the libraries, quads, and the­aters through which this new breed of Har­vard men and women wan­der attest to the place’s ongo­ing exclu­siv­i­ty.

Sree­ja Kala­pu­rakkel, above, a mem­ber of the Har­vard South Asian Dance Com­pa­ny, knew what she was get­ting into, as a stu­dent at a respect­ed Boston sec­ondary school. Short­ly after grad­u­a­tion, she sung Har­vard’s prais­es some­what more frankly on her Face­book page:

Each day of my time at Har­vard was filled with every­thing that makes life beau­ti­ful: dark­ness, strug­gle, despair, lone­li­ness, friend­ship, hope, per­se­ver­ance, light. Every expe­ri­ence, every les­son, every friend trans­formed me into some­one more human and gave me some­thing new to fight for.

Har­vard, like every oth­er col­lege in the land, has relaxed its pol­i­cy on end­ing a sen­tence in a prepo­si­tion.

Ana-Maria Con­stan­tin arrived sight unseen from her native Roma­nia to pull us out onto the deck of the Smith­son­ian Astro­phys­i­cal Obser­va­to­ry.

On to the lock­er room! Hock­ey cap­tain Kyle Criscuo­lo joins the Detroit Red Wings, reflect­ing that Har­vard stu­dent ath­letes enjoy no spe­cial treat­ment. In future, the uni­ver­si­ty may want to require them to lis­ten to Will Stephen’s lec­ture, “How to Sound Smart in a TED Talk.” Criscuo­lo sounds sin­cere, but also stiff, as if read­ing from a sheet of paper, or the dig­i­tal equiv­a­lent there­of.

(There­of is an adverb, by the way. Not a prepo­si­tion. I checked.)

Har­vard Art Muse­ums Stu­dent Board mem­ber Rachel Thomp­son paints her­self so meek­ly, I’m tempt­ed to check with her fresh­man year room­mate. Was she real­ly so filled with self doubt? I’ve always assumed Har­vard accep­tance let­ters would puff the recip­i­ent up. Good lord, imag­ine the effect the rejec­tion let­ters must have!

Use a mouse to explore the immer­sive envi­ron­ment on your com­put­er, or the YouTube app to nav­i­gate on a mobile device. Use a vir­tu­al real­i­ty head­set and the Har­vard Crim­son staff’s vocab­u­lary list to enhance the expe­ri­ence even more.

The com­plete playlist is here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Har­vard Presents Free Cours­es with the Open Learn­ing Ini­tia­tive

NPR Launch­es Data­base of Best Com­mence­ment Speech­es Ever

The Har­vard Clas­sics: Down­load All 51 Vol­umes as Free eBooks

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine, and a North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty grad. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Stephen Fry Launches Pindex, a “Pinterest for Education”

Who can now deny that, in the inter­net, we have the great­est edu­ca­tion­al tool ever con­ceived by mankind? Sure­ly no Open Cul­ture read­er would deny it, any­way, nor could they fail to take an inter­est in a new start­up aim­ing to increase the inter­net’s edu­ca­tion­al pow­er fur­ther still: Pin­dex, which calls itself “a Pin­ter­est for edu­ca­tion.” No oth­er com­pa­ny has yet staked that ter­ri­to­ry out, and cer­tain­ly no oth­er com­pa­ny has done it with the sup­port of Stephen Fry.

The Tele­graph’s Cara McCoogan describes Pin­dex, which launched just last month (vis­it it here), as “a self-fund­ed online plat­form that cre­ates and curates edu­ca­tion­al videos and info­graph­ics for teach­ers and stu­dents,” found­ed and run by a four-per­son team.

Fry’s role in the quar­tet includes offer­ing “cre­ative direc­tion,” but he’s also put his unmis­tak­able voice to one of Pin­dex’s first videos, an “explain­er about the Large Hadron Col­lid­er, dark mat­ter and extra dimen­sions. Oth­er videos will focus on sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy, includ­ing ones on the Hyper­loop, colonis­ing Mars, and robots and drones. Mr Fry is expect­ed to do the voiceovers for sev­er­al of these.”

Have a look around the site and you’ll also find a col­lec­tion of mate­r­i­al on grav­i­ta­tion­al waves, some cre­ative writ­ing resources, an info­graph­ic guide to nutri­tion, details on a vari­ety of fun sci­ence exper­i­ments, and much more besides. There’s even a guide to Pin­dex itself, which explains how to use the site and what you can get out of it going for­ward, whether as a teacher, a stu­dent, or just some­one into learn­ing as much as pos­si­ble — a pur­suit that, even in what Fry calls “a time when it is easy to lose faith in an online world that seems to cen­tre around trolling, bul­ly­ing, hat­ing, triv­i­al­iz­ing and belit­tling,” gets more reward­ing by the day.

via The Tele­graph

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Hig­gs Boson and Its Dis­cov­ery Explained with Ani­ma­tion

Stephen Fry Hosts “The Sci­ence of Opera,” a Dis­cus­sion of How Music Moves Us Phys­i­cal­ly to Tears

Start Your Start­up with Free Stan­ford Cours­es and Lec­tures

Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18

Stephen Fry Explains Human­ism in 4 Ani­mat­ed Videos: Hap­pi­ness, Truth and the Mean­ing of Life & Death

Stephen Fry Explains the Rules of Crick­et in 10 Ani­mat­ed Videos

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Download the Software That Provides Stephen Hawking’s Voice

hawking capitalism future

Cre­ative Com­mons image via NASA

Ah to be pos­sessed of a high­ly dis­tinc­tive voice.

Actress Kather­ine Hep­burn had one.

As did FDR

And not­ed Hol­ly­wood Square Paul Lyn­de…

Physi­cist Stephen Hawk­ing may trump them all, though his famous­ly rec­og­niz­able voice is not organ­ic. The one we all asso­ciate with him has been com­put­er gen­er­at­ed since wors­en­ing Amy­otroph­ic lat­er­al scle­ro­sis, aka Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease, led to a tra­cheoto­my in 1985.

With­out the use of his hands, Hawk­ing con­trols the Assis­tive Con­text-Aware Toolk­it soft­ware with a  sen­sor attached to one of his cheek mus­cles.

Recent­ly, Intel has made the soft­ware and its user guide avail­able for free down­load on the code shar­ing site, Github. It requires a com­put­er run­ning Win­dows XP or above to use, and also a web­cam that will track the visu­al cues of the user’s facial expres­sions.

The mul­ti-user pro­gram allows users to type in MS Word and browse the Inter­net, in addi­tion to assist­ing them to “speak” aloud in Eng­lish.

The soft­ware release is intend­ed to help researchers aid­ing suf­fer­ers of motor neu­ron dis­eases, not pranksters seek­ing to bor­row the famed physicist’s voice for their door­bells and cook­ie jar lids. To that end, the free ver­sion comes with a default voice, not Pro­fes­sor Hawking’s.

Down­load the Assis­tive Con­text-Aware Toolk­it (ACAT) here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Hawking’s Big Ideas Explained with Sim­ple Ani­ma­tion

Stephen Hawk­ing Starts Post­ing on Face­book: Join His Quest to Explain What Makes the Uni­verse Exist

Stephen Hawking’s Uni­verse: A Visu­al­iza­tion of His Lec­tures with Stars & Sound

Free Online Physics Cours­es

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Her play, Fawn­book, is cur­rent­ly play­ing in New York City. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Do Not Track: Interactive Film Series Reveals the Personal Information You’re Giving Away on the Web

If Face­book knows every­thing about you, it’s because you hand­ed it the keys to your king­dom.  You post­ed a pho­to, liked a favorite child­hood TV show, and will­ing­ly vol­un­teered your birth­day. In oth­er words, you hand­ed it all the data it needs to annoy you with tar­get­ed adver­tis­ing.

(In my case, it’s an ancient secret that helped a mid­dle aged mom shave 5 inch­es off her waist­line. Let me save you a click: acai berries.)

Film­mak­er Brett Gay­lor (a “lefty Cana­di­an dad who reads sci­ence fic­tion) seeks to set the record straight regard­ing the web economy’s impact on per­son­al pri­va­cy.

Watch­ing his inter­ac­tive doc­u­men­tary web series, Do Not Track, you’ll inevitably arrive at a cross­roads where you must decide whether or not to share your per­son­al infor­ma­tion. No big­gie, right? It’s what hap­pens every time you con­sent to “log in with Face­book.”

Every time you choose this con­ve­nience, you’re allow­ing Google and oth­er big time track­ers to stick a har­poon (aka cook­ie) in your side. Swim all you want, lit­tle fishy. You’re not exact­ly get­ting away, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’re logged in with a mobile device with a com­pul­sion to reveal your where­abouts.

You say you have noth­ing to hide? Bul­ly for you! What you may not have con­sid­ered is the impact your dig­i­tal easy-breezi­ness has on friends. Your net­work. And vice ver­sa. Tag away!

In this are­na, every “like”—from an acquaintance’s recent­ly launched organ­ic skin­care line to Star Trekhelps track­ers build a sur­pris­ing­ly accu­rate por­trait, one that can be used to deter­mine how insur­able you are, how wor­thy of a loan. Gen­der and age aren’t the only fac­tors that mat­ter here. So does your demon­strat­ed extra­ver­sion, your degree of open­ness.

(Ha ha, and you thought it cost you noth­ing to “like” that acquaintance’s smelly straw­ber­ry-scent­ed mois­tur­iz­er!)

To get the most out of Do Not Track, you’ll want to sup­ply its pro­duc­ers with your email address on your first vis­it. It’s a lit­tle counter-intu­itive, giv­en the sub­ject mat­ter, but doing so will pro­vide you with a unique con­fig­u­ra­tion that promis­es to lift the veil on what the track­ers know about you.

What does it say about me that I couldn’t get my Face­book log-in to work? How dis­ap­point­ing that this fail­ure meant I would be view­ing results tai­lored to Episode 3’s star, Ger­man jour­nal­ist Richard Gut­jahr?

(Your pro­file… says that your age is 42 and your gen­der is male. But the real gold mine is your Face­book data over time. By ana­lyz­ing the at least 129 things you have liked on Face­book, we have used our advanced algo­rithm tech­niques to assess your per­son­al­i­ty and have found you scored high­est in Open­ness which indi­cates you are cre­ative, imag­i­na­tive, and adven­tur­ous. Our per­son­al­i­ty eval­u­a­tion sys­tem uses Psy­cho-demo­graph­ic trait pre­dic­tions pow­ered by the Apply Mag­ic Sauce API devel­oped at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cam­bridge Psy­cho­met­rics Cen­tre.)

I think the take­away is that I am not too on top of my pri­va­cy set­tings. And why would I be? I’m an extro­vert with noth­ing to hide, except my spend­ing habits, brows­ing his­to­ry, race, age, mar­i­tal sta­tus…

Should we take a tip from our high school brethren, who evade the scruti­ny of col­lege admis­sions coun­selors by adopt­ing some ridicu­lous, evoca­tive pseu­do­nym? Expect upcom­ing episodes of Do Not Track to help us nav­i­gate these and oth­er dig­i­tal issues.

Tune in to Do Not Track here. You can find episodes 1, 2 and 3 cur­rent­ly online. Episodes 4–6 will roll out between May 12 and June 9.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Internet’s Own Boy: New Doc­u­men­tary About Aaron Swartz Now Free Online

A Threat to Inter­net Free­dom: Film­mak­er Bri­an Knap­pen­berg­er Explains Why Net Neu­tral­i­ty Mat­ters

How Brew­ster Kahle and the Inter­net Archive Will Pre­serve the Infi­nite Infor­ma­tion on the Web

Ayun Hal­l­i­day an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine invites you to look into her very soul @AyunHalliday

Google Makes Available 750 Icons for Designers & Developers: All Open Source 

google icons

If you’re a design­er or devel­op­er, thought you’d might like to know: “As part of their Mate­r­i­al Design visu­al lan­guage, Google has open-sourced a pack­age of 750 icons. More info here.”

Over at Github, you can view a live pre­view of the icons or down­load the icon pack now.

Our friends at Boing­Bo­ing add, “They’re licensed CC-BY-SA and designed for use in mobile apps and oth­er inter­ac­tive stuff.” Use them well.


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.