Until fairly recently, only serial killers and lunatics had profiles. Yet today, almost everyone is profiled through social media, mobile phones, and a multitude of other methods. But where does the idea of "profiling" come from, how has it changed over time, and what are its implications? In this book, Andreas Bernard examines contemporary profiling's roots in late-nineteenth-century criminology, psychology, and psychiatry. Data collection techniques previously used exclusively by police or to identify groups of people are now applied to all individuals in society. GPS transmitters and measuring devices are now unconsciously embraced to have fun, communicate, make money, or even find a partner. Drawing perceptive parallels between modern technologies and their antecedents, Bernard shows how we have unwittingly internalized what were once instruments of external control and repression. This illuminating genealogy of contemporary digital culture will be of interest to students and scholars in media and communication, and to anyone concerned about the power technologies hold over our lives.
Andreas Bernard is Professor at the Centre for Digital Cultures at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany