Theory: Persona Non Data

So far I have explored the concepts of identity, technology and how technology impacts the way online identity is shaped and persuaded/controlled online. Thus, exploring these concepts as well as concepts of persuasion and use of information that people produce online by advertising agencies, made me interested in exploring the implications of sharing too much data online.

I thus stumbled upon this interactive installation titled ‘Persona Non Data’.

According to their description ‘Visitors interact with Persona Non Data as soon as they enter. They move through the exhibition space, pause, stand in front of the artworks, pick up a message, chat with their friends and, by doing all of these things, they generate data, which is captured using the CCTV cameras, the wifi, social networks’. The premise of the installation is thus to recreate what it’s like when people walk in the street and their faces, bodies, movements, actions and behaviours are constantly captured and transformed into digital data, even if we don’t realise it.

What I found the most interesting in this installation is that like in the “real world” out there, people can’t really “choose” to contribute or not in the first place: they do so just because they are there. But unlike the real world, where people are not asked for their opinion – and most of the time they don’t even know they’re are being captured and analyzed–, however, in Persona Non Data people can express themselves about how their data is used, in other words, they are fully aware of what is happening and are in the position to make choices about it.

I think that the project aims to make their audiences aware of their own data and the impaction on surveillence and privacy. Persona Non Data thus aims to should raise awareness about whether people want to be purchased and sold through their data hundreds of times each day, or how the data they produce with every gesture and action is used.

The major point that comes out of this installation is that there is a major issue in the fact that people are not actually aware of how much data they share in their daily life. This is mentioned in this project through the quote which addresses this issue. ‘In centuries of civilisation we have built laws, systems, languages, values, signs (in a word: cultures) which make us able to “read” society and (more or less) consciously choose our behaviors. Compared to that we landed in the “digital” realm a few seconds ago, and everything is constant change: operating systems, platforms, terms of services, devices. In this age of constant flow and transformation, it is nearly impossible for anyone to really know much about themselves, and to make sense of it. Today, it is impossible for anyone to know what and how much data they generate’. This quote summarizes how the fact that the digital world is still fairly new, it is thus still an obscure and opaque concept that people don’t have a full awareness of. The algorithms that go through the enormous amount of data that we generate every second of everyday, have enormous implications ranging from what people see or don’t see on their Facebook timeline, to whether people will be considered suitable for a job, or for health insurance. This highlights how significant data is nowadays yet it still remains a fairly unknown concept to the majority of the people who actually generate this data.

This installation is VERY significant to the development of my project as it highlights all of the concepts that I have been wanting to explore and portray through my own project. It also made me more certain that it is important to make people understand how they can form their own point of view in relation to the data they produce, and how they can act according to it. Because of this project, I thus decided that my website will have educational qualities that will make people aware of their data and its implications.


House, S. (2016). Persona Non Data is transforming Big Bang Data into “a data generator” | Big Bang Data. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Oct. 2016].


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