Wednesday, 16 September 2020


Limning the world as we’ve inherited it, a Madison Avenue advertising agency, crafting detailed but questionably nuanced or accurate reflections of anyone or informing the proclivities of real persons demographic “people machines,” founded in 1959 the nascent business of data modelling, brilliantly accounted in Jill Lepore’s new book.
The corporate architecture originally programmed and coded by women staff members selected from the typing pool—until male executives recognised the prestige and profit in making computing and technology their exclusive domain (see also)—this Big Data approach was quickly applied to other venues besides marketing, but in ways that ultimately seem maladapted and cynical despite best intentions going in. That and the fact that a group of white men feel that those outside of their peer-group have to be decoded to be understood aptly prefigures the trajectory that tech has taken us and offers a glimpse at least of how it could be otherwise when civics are held separate from sales and targeting is not baked-in to community. Listen to the entire interview on NPR’s Fresh Air at the link below.