No (Big) Data, No Fiction? Thinking Surveillance With/Against Netflix
SAETNAN, A. R., SCHNEIDER, I. & GREEN, N. (eds.) The Politics and Policies of Big Data: Big Data Big Brother? London: Routledge [Forthcoming]
25 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2020
Date Written: January 1, 2018
Surveillance Studies often look at cultural products as pedagogical or heuristic devices, as if they were windows into the popular representation of surveillance practices. However, artworks may also be the (by-)products of consumers' surveillance. Online platforms like Netflix harvest vast amounts of data about clients' behaviour, so to predict their interests and produce more successful, profitable creations. In this chapter, we discuss how to think about surveillance with and against Netflix, focusing on the tensions between databases and narratives, and between politics and data-driven fiction. We explore how surveillance practices are both presented and performed when Big Data gleaned from viewers is used to tailor-script a series questioning mass surveillance, such as House of Cards. We argue that surveillance then displays itself as an embodied and transformative experience. While viewers can figure its inner workings in a more concrete manner, they are, at the same time, turned into data-breeding publics.
Keywords: surveillance, data, Netflix, House of Cards, fiction, publics, Big Data, Big Brother
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