Networked Optimization Made with Sebastian Schmieg and Amazon Kindle Users

Silvio Lorusso, Sebastian Schmieg and Amazon Kindle Users

Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.
— The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Pos. 952

Networked Optimization is a series of three crowdsourced versions of popular self-help books. Each book contains the full text, which is however invisible because it is set in white on a white background. The only text that remains readable consists of the so-called “popular highlights” – the passages that were underlined by many Kindle users – together with the amount of highlighters. Each time a passage is underlined, it is automatically stored in Amazon’s data centers.

Among the books with the most popular highlights, there is a striking number of self-help books. This points to a multi-layered, algorithmic optimization: from readers and authors to Amazon itself. Harvesting its customers micro-labour, the act of reading becomes a data-mining process.

The series consists of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The 5 Love Languages of Love, and How to Win Friends & Influence People.

07
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Full-color, glossy cover; no dust jacket.
15,24×22,86cm;
358 pages;
€ 9,65.
Buy on Lulu

17
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
Full-color, glossy cover; no dust jacket.
15,24×22,86cm;
156 pages;
€ 5,48.
Buy on Lulu

24
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Full-color, glossy cover; no dust jacket.
15,24×22,86cm;
214 pages;
€ 6,86.
Buy on Lulu

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In 2011, Amazon filed a patent (No. 8,676,045) that covers “various embodiments of a studio arrangement and a method of capturing images and/or video.” Through these arrangements “a subject can be photographed and/or filmed on the elevated platform to achieve a desired effect of a substantially seamless background.” Fundamentally, they serve the purpose of optimizing the process of photographing products by speeding it up.

Impakt Festival – “Where the Optimized Human Meets Artificial Empathy”, curated by A.E. Benenson, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 29th October – 2nd November 2014

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Transmediale – “Capture All”, curated by Daphne Dragona and Robert Sakrowski, 28th January – 1st February 2015

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A Motivational Session to Optimize Yourself in 30 Easy Steps at Datafied Research: Capture People, moderated by Søren Pold, 30th January 2015

Thanks to:
Dave Young

Press

Selected Works