Citizen Ex (2015)
Browser extension software / Interface
Citizen Ex by James Bridle is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari. Compiling the IP addresses of sites a user visits, sites’ approximate geographic location, locations of server hosts – and then compiles this data to form what Bridle dubs a “algorithmic citizenship” or a citizenship “assigned through data” (“Citizen”). One’s algorithmic citizenship changes as you travel around the web, compiled daily, monthly and so on. The interface can also show you a geographic world map highlighting where you have “been” according to your digital activity, a percentage breakdown of your citizenship, and lastly creating a type of pie chart badge utilizing nation flags as a visual proof of your algorithmic citizenship – echoing a passport or ID badge. Another participatory project, users have the options to keep their collected data for themselves, share it with Bridle and the project managers to be placed into a larger database of study, and delete it at anytime. In exploring their algorithmic citizenship, the participant begins to question how the digital world impacts, problematizes and possibly even transcends concepts such as nationality and nation, borders, migration and identity that have emerged and traditionalized in part from physical geography and place. Bridle expounds, “Algorithmic citizenship is not bound by physical space, not based on where you were born or who your parents are, but based very specifically on your behaviour, which is mostly how we are judged online. It is also constantly calculated, unstable and not based on the laws of any one location, but is an emergent property of the network itself.” (“Citizen”) Citizen Ex shows us the digital space can be seen to take up and stand in for physical, geographic space, and is based more in how an individual chooses to act and go online, rather than where they were involuntarily born, moved to, etc. in the physical world.
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