The Triumph of ProfilingThe Self in Digital Culture
The Triumph of Profiling
The Self in Digital Culture
Translated by Valentine A. Pakis

Until fairly recently, only serial killers and lunatics had profiles. Yet today, almost everyone is profiled through social media, mobile phones, and a multitude of other methods. But where does the idea of “profiling” come from, how has it changed over time, and what are its implications? 

In this book, Andreas Bernard examines contemporary profiling’s roots in late-nineteenth-century criminology, psychology, and psychiatry. Data collection techniques previously used exclusively by police or to identify groups of people are now applied to all individuals in society. GPS transmitters and measuring devices are now unconsciously embraced to have fun, communicate, make money, or even find a partner. Drawing perceptive parallels between modern technologies and their antecedents, Bernard shows how we have unwittingly internalized what were once instruments of external control and repression.

This illuminating genealogy of contemporary digital culture will be of interest to students and scholars in media and communication, and to anyone concerned about the power technologies hold over our lives.

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  • July 2019
  • 200 pages
  • 143 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $64.95
  • 9781509536290
  • Paperback $22.95
  • 9781509536306
  • Open eBook $14.99
  • 9781509536313
Table of Contents
  • 1. Profiles: The Development of a Format
  • A Conceptual History of the Profile in the Twentieth Century
  • The Triumph of the Self-Made Profile
  • Profiles and the Culture of Job Applications
  • Constants of External Control
  • Cyberspace and Profiles: From the Boundless to the Captive Self
  • 2. Locations: GPS and the Aesthetics of Suspicion
  • The History of Satellite Navigation
  • On the Way to Locating Individuals
  • Paradoxes of Location
  • Electronic Ankle Bracelets
  • Location-Based Games
  • 3. Cavity Searches: Bodily Measurements and the Quantified-Self Movement
  • Fitbit
  • Genealogies of Self-Tracking
  • Measuring, Classifying, Discriminating
  • Introspection and Data Generation
  • Lifting the Veil
  • Witnesses for the Prosecution
  • 4. The Forgotten Fear of Registration
  • The Drama of the Census
  • The Police as a Catalyst of Electronic Registration
  • The Semantics of the Net
  • The Glamour of Datafication
  • 1984 from Today’s Perspective
  • Stigmatization and Self-Design
  • 5. The Power of Internalization
  • Competitive Individuality
  • The Governability of the Self in Digital Culture
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index
About the Author

Andreas Bernard is Professor at the Centre for Digital Cultures at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany

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“How did surveillance technologies evolve from a sinister past in the panopticon prison or the state police to a contemporary scenario where tracking apps run ubiquitously on the mobile phones of billions of people? In this engaging cultural history of measurement and quantification technologies, Andreas Bernard shows how the technology of profiling migrated from criminology into mainstream use, and how the Web changed from a mythology of mobility and boundlessness to one of location and fixity. Have we fulfilled the dreams of totalitarian governments? Or does today's infrastructure facilitate some other, new form of society?”
Alexander R. Galloway, author of The Interface Effect

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