Can the internet read our brain? Week 12 Culture and Data

Data and Culture by Monique Campanella

Since both observing systems and data models evolve, global data also change. We have not one data image of the global climate, but many. The past, or rather what we can know about the past, changes. And it will keep on changing. (Edwards, 2010).

Stacks by Monique Campanella

This week we are focusing on culture and data.

In Springett’s slide show he talked about ‘Stacks’. I found the concept of stack extremely interesting and a little hard to understand.

So what are stack and why do we need to think about them?

Stacks are the new type of corporation that uses lock tight integration of hardware and software in order to create a branded eco system. When I think of branded ecosystems I think of new technological organizations arising within web 2.0. I am thinking about Facebook, apple, Google and cloud technology. But why are they important? It’s because essentially they embody the power of the media. They give users an active role and they also give the owners a reciprocal role as well. They also reflect a new sense of media imperialism.

Lets have a look at the characteristics of Stacks. Now first off we need to know that Stacks have huge teams of employees and users. And when you really think about it generally  Stacks employees are merely a handful compared to the users. Take for example a quick Google search which will show you that Twitter have 3,658 people employed but has a staggering 974 million existing twitter accounts as of 2014. And that number has grown and will continue to grow.

Stacks utilize the online facilities of cloud technology. They have livestock, they have dedicated cultural portals and they have a way of connecting with the user be it through social or technological means. Now Stacks are useful in this age of technological exploration and data collection, take for example Google and what they have done with the home automation market through the purchase of Nest. As Springett touches upon Nest can passively sense and gathers information data about the individual living inside his/her home.

The scary thing is there are countless other examples of these data collection methods. But what’s even scarier is that I believe we are currently only scratching the surface of we they really can do. The rise of wearable technology such as the Apple watch and now the Samsung watch and the various applications these technologies use to track us and gather information data from us is only the beginning of what is to come.

But moving onto media imperialism and the cloud space. Now with the emergence of cloud technology we are seeing a shift from the shared notion of the cloud to the prospect of a more enclosed and territorialised space defined as a single cloud. The readings talk about this in conjunction with the idea of the emergence of a nation state. This was discussed through the notion of Stacks owning territories on the cloud and extending that territory to enforcing laws, organisational structures and recognition of its citizens. The parallel is in my opinion becoming increasingly prevalent as we see stacks like Facebook enforcing regulatory privacy schemes and giving its users powers such as to comment, like and message. In fact we could take this notion further and emphasise this notion of a super Dura striction, that the laws from one country can through various forms of corporation and operation be extended into another and enacted in another. So what we are effectively doing is comparing stacks, the powers they have, and the people who are all a part of these stacks.

Two nation states.

This is also why Springett opens with the anecdote of Mark Zuckerberg talking to the president of the United States of America, Barrack Obama. He opens with this to make a point of how much power Zuckerberg has. He has the power of the media and the power of stacks.

While researching I also stumbled across this very interesting video on data collection.


Edwards, Paul N. (2010). ‘Introduction’ in A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press: xiii-xvii

New Scientist. (2012). How the internet can read your mind. [online] Available: [Accessed 19 October 2014]

New Scientist. (2012). How the internet can read your mind. [online] Available: [Accessed 19 October 14


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