Data + Identity Auction

A workshop with graduate students on extrapolating identity from disparate pieces of personal data.

Team: Jack Ratterree
Timeline: October 2020


How easy it is to extrapolate identity from data? Can data ever truly be anonymized? To explore these questions in practice my partner and I held an auction.

For this workshop, students submitted location, purchase, and search data points gathered through their phones and browsers. Each data point they submitted earned them one ‘clam.’

My partner and I tagged each participant’s data with a color and assembled it in a randomized master spread. We gave students a goal: identify who each color represented. We proceeded to auction off the aggregated data; allowing students to purchase data points using their accumulated clams. 

By the end of the workshop the students were able to identify every participant based on their shared data points.