How do you look on the Internet? MIT Sociable Media Group's "Personas" shows how you look

A friend (yes, I have a few) pointed out an interesting "installation" that can be found on MIT Sociable Media Group's website.  It's called Personas.

A friend (yes, I have a few) pointed out an interesting "installation" that can be found on MIT Sociable Media Group's website.  It's called Personas. Personas was created by Aaron Zinman, with help from Alex Dragulescu, Yannick Assogba and Judith Donath.

This installation allows a person to enter a name. It then searches for that name on the internet, examines sites mentioning that name and then presents what appears to to be an authoritative chart that is showing how an automated search and evaluation algorithm would see that individual.

In my case, it is surprisingly wrong.  I contacted the good Mr. Zinman about this and was advised that was the point of the exercise was to show how the Internet view of a person may not be accurate and yet is still believed by many.

Click here to see the chart Personas created for me.

Although I haven't reviewed the actual algorithm, here's what I've surmised based upon the results. It appears that the site only reviews the first 28 references it finds on the Internet. If one does a search for the phrase "Dan Kusnetzky," a significantly larger number of references can be seen. It appears to search through the entire content of pages containing the search phrase. This, of course would produce surprisingly wrong data if a person was quoted on the front page of a news site. That page would contain references to many unrelated articles.

Here's a quick run down of the first few categories that show up when Personas is through doing its work based upon the phrase "Dan Kusnetzky."

  • Online - I guess my online publications, including this column, produced an entry in this category
  • Books -  At one point, IDC was distributing some of its reports through So, it appears that I've published a number of books. Other than that, this reference is incorrect. Do you suppose this is life telling me that I ought to start writing books?
  • Fame - At one point, Sam Whitmore's Media Survey showed that I was one of the most quoted analysts. Could that be why this shows up? Since I neither sing nor dance, I guess that has to be it.
  • Military - This reference has me stumped. I can't figure out why this one appeared on my list.
  • Sports - Wow, is this one off!  I'm not interested in sports at all. Watching sports on television ranks right up there with watching grass grow in my view. While I'm overjoyed that others find enjoyment there, I would rather than invest time in that occupation. I suspect that the use of the phrase "member of the senior team of the 451 Group" in my bio was misread by the automated process. I would bet that it took that language as meaning that as I was a member of a professional sporting team. Everyone knows that I've been a member of the U.S. Conclusion Jumping Team for quite a number of years even though the media has shown no interest in this sport. You should see the team uniform - an orange spandex jumpsuit with a logo on the chest that contains a mountain goat on the side of a mountain. Wait a minute!  I think I finally figured this one out.  This segment probably includes powersports, such as motorcycling. Maybe it was right after all!  I'm the former chapter director of the nearby Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) FL2-B2.
  • Management - I think that I know why this one shows up. If the search includes quotes from various forms of media over the last fifteen years or so, titles such as "Business Manager," "Vice President System Software Research," "Executive Vice President of Corporate and Marketing Strategy" and "Vice President of Research Operations" would be found.
  • Fashion - Wow, where did that one come from?  My clothing could be characterized as coming from the early attic or late garage sale eras.
  • Committees - Since I've lead committees that produced events over the years, this category is correct.
  • Aggression - I hate the fact that this one showed up. 8) I wonder why it is here?
  • Media - Do you suppose this column and articles I've written for ComputerWorld, InfoWorld, BBC Online, TechTarget and other journals might have contributed to this category being included?

I think you got the point that the good Mr. Zinman and his team were trying to make.  It would be very wise to check before making major decisions about someone based solely on his/her Web persona.

Why don't you give the site a visit and see what the Internet has to say about you?