How are users meant to interpret the influence of big data and personalization in their targeted experiences? What signals show how your data is used and how it improves or constrains your experience? To what degree is this experience based on coarse demographics or the entire data profile of your browsing history? Sara Watson explains that in order to develop normative opinions to shape policy and practice, users need means to guide their experience—the personalization spectrum.
Sara M. Watson is a technology critic and writer in residence at Digital Asia Hub. She is also a Research Fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and an affiliate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
Her work explores how we are learning to live with, understand, and interpret our personal data and the algorithms that shape our experiences. She investigates the ways that corporations, governments, and individuals use data from wearable sensors, the internet of things, and other digitally processed systems. Sara immerses herself in emerging technologies to understand its personal impacts firsthand. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Wired, Gizmodo, Columbia Journalism Review, Harvard Business Review, Al Jazeera America, and Slate.
Sara has previously worked as an enterprise technology analyst at The Research Board (Gartner, Inc.), exploring implications of technological trends for Fortune 500 CIOs. Sara holds an MSc in the Social Science of the Internet with distinction from the Oxford Internet Institute, where her award winning thesis used ethnographic methods to examine the personal data interests of the Quantified Self community. She graduated from Harvard College magna cum laude with a joint degree in English and American Literature and Film Studies. Sara is currently based in Singapore, and keeps close ties to Cambridge and New York. She tweets @smwat.
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