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Will things go MyWay, when IT companies own the streets?

edited June 2017 in Stories & tools
I met Sebastian O'Sullivan Højholm, Stud.Cand.IT at IWDK 2017 in Aarhus at the project booth at the "Post-Factual Design 2027: An interactive exhibition". He showcased his project MyWay where he takes a look at what the future might look like when IT companies owns the streets.

Sebastian and I had an enthusiastic debate around how surveillance capitalism might lead to scenarios like this in the future, and how the need for privacy reaches the physical space.

I've invited Sebastian to join the discussion in the forum, and you can ask questions, and share how you see the streets we walk transition when IT companies enters the physical space.

@sebastian_oh - a question for you.
Is the right moment to influence a MyWay subscriber sold for a higher price?
With the recent report about how Facebook helped advertisers target teens who feel "worthless" in mind. SmartGround opens for collection even more information about the mood, the speed of walking in, the tone of voice, the surroundings reaction to a persons behaviuor and other instant measures from the physical space.

In your project, did you think about if the price for sponsoring a route is sold on an auction, and how that would affect the route if the highest bid under the circumstances makes the route plan for you?


  • Hi Brian
    First of all, thank you for the interesting discussion regarding Google and capitalistic user-manipulation - it's nice to see others with similar concerns.

    As for your first question: The way I'd imagined Google MyWay had three basic variables in terms of price regulations for interested third parties. The first is the area - prices would go up in a downtown area with a lot of possible buyers of people's routes. The second and third variables are concerned with the user. Obviously there are users who are more vulnerable to advertisements (as you mentioned), and these would be ideal costumers. Furthermore, there are users who are ideal because they actually have a profile that fits what the specific third party has to offer.

    It's funny, because since this is a fictive scenario, I'm still figuring out the possible consequences and actions that surround Google MyWay. In the article on your website, I mentioned how this product might create a vicious circle of controlled exposure, where users are presented with a world based on an algorithmic alterego (Google's understanding of the user), which in turn manipulates their movement in this world, reframing their actions and confirming the user as an individual who is subjected to this algorithmic understanding. But there's also another vicious circle, which I only recently realized, one of strategic consumerism. In the world of Google MyWay, users might benefit from being a consumer, meaning that in order to save money on traffic fee, you might have to buy a cup of coffee from time to time when Starbuck pays for your travels. Carefully selecting when and where to buy things can enhance your attractiveness to interested third parties and thus make you save money on travels.

    Nevertheless, some of the speculations in this critical design are indeed just speculations of a future. But there are definitely elements in Google MyWay that reflect the contemporary business model of Google, which I've tried to expose.
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