Image credits: Boris Zharkov

Networked Optimization

Networked Optimization is a series of three crowdsourced versions of popular self-help books: How to Win Friends & Influence People, The 5 Love Languages and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Each book is published in full text in white print on a white background. The only sentences that remain visible are the so-called popular highlights – the passages that were underlined by the most Kindle users – together with the amount of highlights.

Each time a passage on a Kindle is underlined, it is automatically stored in Amazon’s data centers. Schmieg found that among the books with the most popular highlights are a striking number of self-help books. This reveals a process of algorithmic optimization:from readers and authors to Amazon itself. Harvesting its customers micro-labor, the act of reading becomes a data-mining process. The ‘optimized’ books are available online for you to print on demand.

A collaboration with Silvio Lorusso and Amazon Kindle Users