I love breaking brains & expectations - Silona

Silona | geek | Austin, TX

January 26, 2009:

Well, I know much of my work seems very philanthropic. And in many ways it is (like how little money I make in comparison to the old days.) But it really has evolved from my sense of identity – so in its own way – it is quite self oriented… I started creating databases while I was still in college for political campaigns (1988-1992.) I was jokingly called “Big Sister” by peers as a reference to Big Brother from the novel “1984.” I could easily see the power in these lists of lists. I created a special direct mailing in 92 where I did targeted direct mail pieces to neighborhoods. Each person received a personalized letter with their neighbor’s name and address so they could ask them directly why they were supporting us. (Yes, I got everyone’s ok before I sent their contact info in a mail piece.)
In fact, I did a business proposal to the DNC about creating a master database for the Democratic party. Back then you could buy magazine lists for a song. Imagine the targeted mailer you could write if you knew someone subscribed to “Field and Stream” vs “UTNE Reader.” The Democrats weren’t interested but the Republicans were… So I walked away from it at that point. Though as history shows certain Republicans in Austin, Texas created a similar list for the RNC.

I started doing large database systems on the internet. In 1995, some dirty jokes I made on usenet suddenly showed up. And at the moment I realized that not only would things not go away but soon… very soon… anyone would be able to find them. My name is a unique identifier. I was also dating an AI programmer that did datamining and realized soon everyone (not just me) would be identifiable. I decided to hide more. At the same time I was torn, I need to protect my “brand” of “silona.” Wether I liked it or not most people assume if there is a “silona” it is me. I focused on creating large Database systems on the internet and ignored the signs for awhile…

Photographed at SXSW 2011 in collaboration with Jean Russell & Thrivable.net

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Galleries: SXSW 2011
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Location: Austin, TX


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