The burden of continual assessment in a digital age

Due to my current reliance upon a laptop that’s unsuitable for my work, I presently find myself running a disk cleaning utility on a near daily basis. It’s a very useful bit of software that very quickly wipes caches and clears unneeded files. I like it a lot and it was pretty cheap to purchase. But every time I use it, I’m presented with the following request:

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 11.51.59

Selecting the happy face produces a request for a ‘review or rating’. Selecting the neutral or sad faces leads to an invitation to get in touch to raise concerns or address technical problems. The software casts the user in a role of perpetual evaluation from which it’s relatively easy to escape (with one or two clicks) but impossible to reject all together. This strikes me as an interesting metaphor for operation of digital systems which aim to produce ‘excellence’ through real-time user feedback – in this sense, I see this as big data even if the data in question are not very, well, big –  as well as a taste of what seems likely to become a potentially overwhelming routine feature of daily life in the near future. Each individual act of evaluation is trivial but the aggregative cognitive burden likely isn’t.


Categories: Digital Sociology, Mediated Matters

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