What is it?

Interactive: This “one-pixel-column camera” shows the scene directly in front of it.


It only takes a weak signal to get segmented. By which I refer to the vast structures of marketing automation used by companies to slice enormous audiences of Internet users into buckets–those who love a certain product category, and those who don’t.

The “segment” of people who love roast beef is the group of potential customers most likely to “convert” with a stop by Arby’s on the way home.

How do you get segmented? Not through filling out surveys, or being (competently) surveilled; a simple web search for a recipe, say, can be enough to get you binned in a particular segment. Our credit card records are bought and sold; a past purchase could get you tagged. And random free apps on your phone monitor and sell your location constantly through exchanges, so hovering near that hot new roast beef restaurant while you wait for your friend might get you segmented.

The companies doing all this labeling and categorizing are incentivized to identify you as part of a particular category, and not incentivized to do so correctly. Ever had a product follow you around the Internet in ads after you already purchased it?

I wonder about a world in which these segments could affect whether you get a job interview, a mortgage, or parole. Does that Fortune 500—or government—know your secret affinities?

As a metaphor for a weak signal, “Subset” offers you a slice of yourself, overblown.

What, where, when


Care and Feeding





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