This may seem tangential to our class at first glance. However, Katie L. Price has a very interesting project to turn the information contained on her medical records into poetry. In formal terms, the project shows how restructuring information—from documentary form to poetic form—can alter its meaning in dramatic ways, even if the data stays the same. The process of making private health records public also resonates with what Frank Pasquale writes about health insurance scores. Rather than letting her medical history add up to a numeric identity assigned by some data broker, Price works to regain a kind of control over her health records. In the process, she works against narratives of private illness and private risk, showing instead how perceptions of health have very public consequences. Medical patients bear the brunt of those consequences, her poetry suggests, not commercial insurance services.
This event should help us imagine interesting new angles for the course material. Price’s poetry could become an interesting point of entry for a final project about individual reputation in the era of run-away data. Attend the talk and blog about it for extra-credit—brownie points if you ask a question about digital technology!