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Description - Profiling Machines by Greg Elmer

In this volume Greg Elmer brings the perspectives of cultural and media studies to the subject of consumer profiling and feedback technology in the digital economy. He examines the multiplicity of processes that monitor consumers and automatically collect, store and cross-reference personal information. When we buy a product online, our transations are recorded, stored and deployed to forecast our future behaviour - thus we may receive solicitations to buy similar products. Elmer charts this process, explaining the technologies that make it possible and examining the social and political implications. He begins by establishing a theoretical framework for his discussion, proposing a "diagrammatic approach" that draws on but questions Foucault's theory of surveillance. In the second part of the book, he discusses in detail the historical background of the technology of consumer profiling, including such pre-electronic tools as the census and the warranty card, and follows this with a description of the software and technology in use today for demographic mapping. The third part looks at two case studies - a marketing event sponsored by Molson that was held in the Canadian Artic (contrasting the attendees and the indigenous inhabitants) and the use of "cookies" to collect personal information on the World Wide Web, which (along with similar technologies) automate the process of information collection and cross-referencing. Elmer concludes by considering the politics of profiling, arguing that we must begin to question our everyday electronic routines.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780262050739
ISBN-10: 0262050730
Format: Hardback
(229mm x 152mm x 19mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: MIT Press
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
Publish Date: 23-Dec-2003
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Greg Elmer

Greg Elmer is Associate Professor of Communications at Florida State University. He is the editor of Critical Perspectives on the Internet and co-editor of the journal Space and Culture.

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