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In summation of my engagement with the course, I’d like to examine my response to Professor Chun’s theme of “delightful creepiness.”

It is delightful, which is great. It is creepy, but it shouldn’t be.

I don’t want to say that there is nothing about the Internet, Big Data, AOL search leaks, drone strikes, cyberbullying/rape, or the gamification of culture that should give us cause for concern. The Internet and digital media are changing our culture, our work, our play, and our brains. Wariness is a natural response to change– it helps protect us from the sometimes negative consequences thereof. But we also can’t let it interfere with our ability to change for the better.

Big Data is exactly that: BIG. As mentioned in “Big Data– Creepy?” below, we envision some corporate stalker using the mined data to stalk us, corrupting our minds and emptying our wallets. But the fact of the matter is, each one of us is a single bit, maybe a byte’s worth of data among petabytes. It is our culture that is shaped by the algorithm, and culture has always swept us along in waves. It is now, as it has always been, our responsibility to define ourselves within the framework of that culture. The Internet, more than ever, shapes our individual experience, but we also, more than ever, are empowered to shape that experience ourselves. Websites like Kickstarter, YouTube, and Etsy allow us to be direct patrons of culture and the arts; we take ownership of that which previously belonged to those elites who cultivated their ‘taste’ and imposed it on the masses. I have found myself more and more frequently talking about programming and code in the same terms I would use to discuss magic in a fantasy novel– in this new, digital world, we have the almost-magical power to directly manipulate the fabric of reality. To break the rules. To make the rules.

Yes, there is institutional oppression in this new world. There is violence, rape, and vulnerability: the chance that our secret selves will be exposed, mocked, or– worse– bought and sold. But these things were present in the meat space as well. The digital world is the new frontier, where the real estate is limitless and any man can be a king.