“It’s totally creepy,” Big Data mastermind Alan Wilkis says, “the idea of being able to stalk people on Facebook and Twitter and whatever, and kind of learn more about strangers than you should be able to know and how easy that is. You can wind up on a total stranger’s page and then you’re looking at photos of their wedding and their children and stuff, and it’s like, I shouldn’t be allowed to see this.”
Wilkis’ discomfort over the erosion of privacy that social platforms like Facebook have engendered (and which Facebook and the NSA, among many others, have exploited for their own purposes) is one of the biggest influences on the music he makes. In fact, he ranks it above any strictly musical inspiration. He calls Big Data’s aesthetic approach “techy and paranoid,” and one of the first of his efforts to attract serious attention was an interactive music video that builds, in real time, a 3-D virtual sculpture out of photos and text scraped from your Facebook account. Seeing it create itself out of bits of your personal life, it’s not hard to share some of Wilkis’s unease.