Focus question: Referring to Vries (2010), reflect on how algorithms are increasingly impacting our lives, online and offline.
In an ideal world technologies would evolve without impacting our online and offline identities but it is not the world we live in.
The increasing growth and competitiveness of the e-commerce industry has led marketing and web analytic companies to create detailed algorithms that observe, identify and analyse users and their behaviours online, (Cheney-Lippold, 2011).
Whilst these algorithms create a personalised experience for the user, exposure to unexplored territories is limited and the users interface is centered on already established behaviours, (de Vries, 2010). For example when I log onto to Facebook or YouTube the advertisements down the side usually contain sites that I’ve recently visited namely ‘The Iconic’ and ‘Asos’.
The scope for expansion into new products and new brands or websites is suppressed and therefore my online experience of uncontrollable advertisements is limited to what I already know, (de Vries, 2010)
Amazon maximises personalisation through the use of unique interface interactions such as the ‘Amazon Betteriser’ which asks users to participate in ‘liking’ products so that Amazon can better recommend items, (Amazon, 2012).
However, de Vries (2010) makes an interesting point on assumptions made regarding the sameness of different people. Relying too much on profiling techniques within e-commerce environments limits the expansion of knowledge, experience and identity within an individual user, (de Vries, 2010).
Online fashion retailer ‘The Iconic’ is a powerful force in the e-commerce industry and uses external profiling outside of the sites interface to reach its users. A single visit to the site with no exchange of personal information just your IP address changes the user’s online environment to suit ‘The Iconic’, (Iconic, 2012).
This presence of The Iconic and the multiple times it appears on my screen is powerful because it is basically manipulating what I see, (de Vries, 2010).
This is The Iconic popping up on my Youtube advertisement after I visited the site earlier this morning as an experiment.
The personalisation and profiling activities exhibited by e-commerce websites such as The Iconic are also applied with the objective of socialising the consumer experience and creating the notion of a community through the store front platform, (de Vries, 2010).
Therefore through the socialisation of e-commerce sites and the sense of community that is created , my experience of my online world is in a way being controlled by them, (de Vries, 2010).
“We are effectively losing control in defining who we are online, or more specifically we are losing ownership over the meaning of the categories that constitute our identities. Algorithm ultimately exercises control over us by harnessing these forces… (Cheney-Lippold, 2010).
The idea that our online and offline identity could be affected, influenced and restricted by these algorithms is sort of disturbing, especially when effectively we are losing control of what we are exposed to within our online environment, (Cheney-Lippold).
The more aware you become of the purposeful nature of the ads you see online the less chance there is of it changing the way we go about our daily business online and offline, (de Vries, 2010).