Eduardo Navas on Thu, 16 Oct 2008 12:18:52 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime-ann> New online project: Traceblog

Online Project: Traceblog, by Eduardo Navas
Featured for the month of October at Fringe Exhibitions, Los Angeles:
(Click on "net art project")

Traceblog is a daily ghost log of Eduardo Navas's online searches, created
with TrackMeNot (TMN). While Navas surfs the web, TrackMeNot is activated
with the aim to cover his online surfing. TrackMeNot is a browser extension
designed for search engine obfuscation. The developers define the Firefox
plug-in as follows:

"TrackMeNot is a lightweight browser extension that helps protect web
searchers from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines. It does so
not by means of concealment or encryption (i.e. covering one's tracks), but
instead, paradoxically, by the opposite strategy: noise and obfuscation.
With TrackMeNot, actual web searches, lost in a cloud of false leads, are
essentially hidden in plain view. User-installed TrackMeNot works with the
Firefox Browser and popular search engines (AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and MSN)
and requires no 3rd-party servers or services."

Keeping track of people's surfing activity has become an essential element
for data-mining, which is often used by private and public as well as state
entities to better understand people's trends. Traceblog is developed to
reflect on a new stage that global culture is entering, which follows a
recent period when millions of people around the world willingly shared
information about themselves online, via social networks such as Facebook,
Flickr, and Myspace, as well as Youtube, not to mention thousands of blogs.
This sharing is still at play, and is becoming ubiquitous. The argument
behind Traceblog is that social networking and online transparency encompass
the solidification of Web 2.0. The result is that everyone is encouraged to
be more social under the subtext of constant exposure, at times indirectly
and others directly informed by the concept of the celebrity. Everyone can
be star in Youtube, if an uploaded video becomes viral, or everyone can feel
extremely popular when amassing thousands of friends and "fans" in Myspace
and Facebook.

Navas's logs of pseudo surfing are published on Traceblog to reflect on the
archiving of daily activities of any individual who surfs the web. And to
ask online surfers to reflect on the real implications of the current state
of online tracking. The project in many ways is the opposite of Diary of a
Star, in which Navas commented on the Andy Warhol Diaries, while often
sharing some personal information of his own. Traceblog, does the opposite:
It shows Navas's unwillingness to share information, while exposing how
information can be taken from him. Traceblog also presents the surfing-logs
in a way that is unappealing and hard to read by the online user, something
blogs are usually designed to avoid. This is done to reference the actual
form in which the logs would be stored in a database.

TrackMeNot has received some criticism on its effectiveness, as can be
attested by selected links provided on the blog's top right handside of the
front page. Traceblog is not primarily concerned with how well TrackMeNot
performs; instead it utilizes the Firefox extension for critical commentary
on the preoccupation of losing one's privacy.

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