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Unbearable lightness of uncertainty

Murat Germen

Abstract: Forecasting, if misused and distorted, can turn into an apparatus of prophecy and exploited to misguide, convince, daze, hypnotize people. Some studies in data visualization, for instance, carries this potential. In order to make complex data more understandable, InfoVis projects tend to exclude marginalities and focus on mainstream data to make it more visible, legible, understandable. As a result, mainstream becomes majority, minority disappears since it does not find the opportunity to be visually represented. On the other hand, studies conducted on network behaviours reveal the fundamentally private ways people surf, live, shop, behave, consume and this fact pave the way for manipulation of apparently personal preferences. Commercial corporations die to get access to such info and they pay millions of dollars to academicians who are involved in such analysis, since they acquire the possibility of manoeuvring how people will consume. The disguisedly named “trend research” irrevocably evolves into “trendsetting”, and the commercial firms do not follow people anymore, instead they make people follow their firms’ trends devised after forecasting. Being able to forecast weather, natural disasters, health problems and so on is necessary, indispensable; but, when forecasting is (ab)used to control the way people live, it becomes latently oppressive, dictatorial and exploitive.

This paper will focus on the positive dimensions of the conceptions of serendipity, surprise, accident (especially in the field of visual arts) and on the negative aspects of systemic determinism where technology is ill-used to make people’s brains dull, submissive by providing “services” for daily routines that are supposed to be carried out by people themselves, and not machines.

Keywords: Change, determinism, forecasting, mysticism, polysemy, serendipity, trendsetting, unexpected.

Murat-Germen_full-paper_2012

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