Colin Koopman, How We Became Our Data: A Genealogy of the Informational Person (University of Chicago Press, 2019) reviewed at NDPR by Ladelle McWhorter.
Colin Koopman’s title encapsulates the central — and both disturbing and compelling — arguments of his book: (1) over the past century, a new sort of subject has emerged, whom he dubs the informational person; (2) this new subject formed within an initially disparate array of administrative and technical practices of data collection, formatting, storage, and application; and (3) this subject is us. The third claim bears emphasizing; Koopman writes, “Our data do not simply point at who we already were before information systems were constructed. Rather, our information composes significant parts of our very selves. Data are active participants in our making. The formats structuring data help shape who we are” (vii). Our informational selves are not merely doubles of our real selves, as Bernard Harcourt has suggested; they are our real selves (170), even if we exceed them in some important ways.