While the advertising industry heralds the use of digital communication technologies as a form of individual empowerment and self-efficacy, people’s interactions with their devices are proving to also have significant negative effects on society. The poem is situated in the near future, when the collection of personal information will be achieved by individual activities online, by the contributions carried out by other people, and through sensors that are part of the Internet of Things. The personal data, aggregated, will be processed at very high speeds with the assistance of artificial intelligence.
As it happens in this generative video poem, unique pieces of audiovisual media will be created on-the-fly to achieve persuasive objectives based on individual profiles. The combination between the massive collection of personal data and its subsequent statistical processing, aimed at achieving persuasive objectives, will push us towards a terrible reality. Ultimately, the logic of statistics will be used to define human existence individually and socially in a deterministic way and, unfortunately, it will be guided mostly by commercial interests.
Throughout his career, Diego Bonilla has engaged in artistic, academic and professional activities. While studying for a BA in Business Administration, he published a poetry book as well as several short stories in his native Mexico. In 1996, Editorial Iberoamericana published his co-authored book “Marketing and Self-presentation on the Internet,” which was distributed in Mexico and other countries in Latin America. Diego moved to the United States in 1998 to pursue an MS in Media Management and, later, a Ph.D. in Mass Media, with a specialization in Digital Media, at Syracuse University.
At the turn of the century, Diego designed, wrote and programmed an interactive hypermedia narrative – A Space of Time- using panoramic virtual reality. He also implemented a tracking mechanism to understand how users engaged with the narrative choice by choice. In recognition of this work, Syracuse University’s Graduate School awarded Diego the Doctoral Prize in 2003.
Diego has also given national and international presentations on Open Educational Resources, as well as academic conference presentations about the computerized solutions he has pursued in his instruction. From 2014 to 2016, Diego served as one of three California State University representatives on the California Open Educational Resources Council, which created an online library of open educational resources to encourage the use of free or affordable textbooks and other materials throughout California’s public higher education system.
In 2017, he was the winner of the Experimental Cinema category of the Premios Latino in Spain with a hypermedia narrative “Accidental Occurrence”; a film edited by a program, not a person. In the last 10 years, Diego has been invited to present his vision of modular filmmaking in England, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador. During this same period, he has also promoted information literacy, creating a six-course minor in the Communications Studies Department at California State University, Sacramento, where he is a professor. Diego currently teaches digital media literacy and focuses his work on the development of literary and visual hypermedia works through the use of programming.
Big Data is a term used to describe, in general, the gathering of vast amounts of digital information and its subsequent processing, through sophisticated computational techniques, with the purpose of obtaining knowledge.
In the case of Big Data, the generative poem, the term speaks to the massive collection of personal information communicated online and its processing for commercial purposes, especially for-profit endeavors related to a persuasion achieved through the detailed knowledge of individuals, a persuasion aimed to be invisible.
The poem is situated in the near future, when the collection of personal information will be achieved by individual activities online, by the contributions carried out by other people and by sensors that are part of the Internet of things. The personal data, aggregated, will be processed at very high speeds with the assistance of artificial intelligence. The combination between the massive collection of personal data and its subsequent statistical processing, with that emphasis on inferential statistics to achieve persuasive objectives, will lead to a terrible reality. In general, the logic of statistics will be used to define human existence individually and socially in a deterministic way. Big Data’s resulting knowledge, the poem suggests, is equivalent to the omniscience generally attributed to deities.
The poem is not a linear poem, it is a poem that regenerates itself differently each time a program is run. The sequencing of the lines of the poem was carefully developed to always achieve, in each regeneration, appropriate grammatical and semantic structures (in Spanish). The random processes that make the poem always different are bounded and conditioned by pre-established “paths” imposed through programming. This automated construction of the poem shows that the regeneration of media in real-time, with persuasive intent, based on personal profiles, is feasible in the near future.
30 individuals carry out the presentation of each new sequencing of the poem. People’s faces and the way they read the poem expand the perception of a database composed of human profiles. At the same time, these people are the ones who exert persuasion on their peers.
The presentation of the poem through an audiovisual medium creates a continuity that disguises the automatic sequencing of the piece through regenerative processes.
The fractal created for the poem Big Data shows landscapes with millions of information points. Those landscapes contain geometric figures, cubes made of smaller cubes that are made of even smaller cubes, simulating a three-dimensional database. These structures, as a whole, expand and contract rhythmically, seeming to breathe. The landscapes also have columns where there seem to be large amounts of information in motion. The visualizations provided by the fractal are very beautiful, but somewhat frightening when shown in the context of the poem. The database represented is immense, deep, detailed and in perpetual motion.
The electroacoustic composition establishes tones, accents and sound patterns that talk about the Big Data concept, the role of computers in our auditory environment and its way of operating based on electricity.