3[Martyn Thayne // Digital Profiling: The Accumulation of Personal Data in the Attention Economy]
networked technologies. This paper explores the socio-cultural and economic impact of these multiple formsof digital participation as individuals relay information about themselves across new media networks bothintentionally (through weblogs, status updates, posting personal media content, etc.) and inadvertently(through browser cookies which are assigned to track users online habits and various forms of data mining,etc.).Despite the apparent empowering nature of cultural participation, the traditional values of privacy and theconstruction of self-identity must also be re-examined in greater depth by media scholars. Further qualitativeresearch is needed to address the social and political implications, as previously undisclosed, personalinformation is made public through ephemeral multimedia forms and exchanged within digital communicationnetworks. The analysis of these issues must take into account the evolution of economic systems in the digitalage as new modes of self-expression and social relations are increasingly monitored by market forces. Indeed,Zwick and Knott suggest, the ultimate objective of the deployment of modern surveillance technologies inmarketing has been the disciplining and controlling of behavioural variations (2009: 225). Therefore, as socialsoftware become increasingly embedded within the everyday experiences of the user, the computerinfrastructure of these technologies allows data to be utilised as a means of directly profiling and influencingthe consumer, often in ways which escape recognition. Since the modes of surveillance flow freely throughdomestic spaces, in telephones, televisions, computers, and even in the metering of utilities (Lyon, 2002: 2),personal data produced and transferred in digital cultures may be used to monitor and target an individualuser in a multitude of ways. A more contextualised understanding of such developments must be integratedinto a contemporary media studies discourse, one which commonly engages with concerns voiced by scholarsof the surveillance society (see Poster, 1990; Graham, 1998, 2005; Lyon, 2002; Arvidsson, 2005) by aligningsuch conceptual work to interrogate the social and economic impact of new forms of media production andexhibition.Given the increase of networked technologies that facilitate the regular production and surveillance of personal information, conversations about user generated material must be framed within a more economiccontext as this data is increasingly central to new modes of digital advertising and marketing. This is ultimatelywhere the discourse of Media Studies 2.0 becomes problematic as it largely ignores the commercial strategieswhich have emerged in relation to the technological architecture of participatory media. As Van Dijck suggests,we need to account for the multifarious roles of users in a media environment where the boundaries betweencommerce, content and information are currently being redrawn (2009: 42). As the distinctions betweenmedia producers and consumers continue to blur digital content becomes increasingly decentralised and usergenerated. Dan Tapscott has called this
whereby the consumer, in part, defines the end productand content is determined as a result (1999: xxi). The proliferation of personal data transferred within thesenetworks has become central to the development of new social relations alongside innovative businessmodels. The ability to interact directly with users has become a pre-requisite for almost all corporatemarketing in the digital age, with networked technologies allowing companies to implement a two-wayrhetoric between commercial products and potential consumers.
Locke, et al. illustrate how the Internet hasradically reframed business approaches in the digital economy by insisting that markets are conversationsand to succeed companies must embrace the customer as an individual and allow them to be a part of the