Pratt Institute School of Design

Data Authority
Guoying Deng
Dataism, as historian Yuval Noah Harai advocated, venerates data and algorithms as a new omniscient and omnipotent god. This might be too utopian. But data has already taken control of decision making for both our society's and individual's lives. In my thesis, I defined the power that data holds upon humans as data authority. The origin of data authority is different from authority between humans, which refers to Sociologist Max Weber's three types of authority. My thesis is trying to explain the concept of data authority, compares it with human authority, and analyzes the potential and bias within data authority.

Internet Demography
All the data I used in this project come from the internet. Who are the people behind every screen, contributing to big data? Does it apply to the whole population? I made this infographic to compare the internet demography between mainland China and Hong Kong.

Two critical issues, one were the HK protest in 2019, and coronavirus outbreak in 2020, has influenced millions of Chinese people. Behind the complex grand narrative, I noticed that some terms repeatedly appear in these two events. Some of them are sublime ideas, and some are dirty smut.

"Liberty "
I grabbed data from the two most used search engines in mainland China and Hong Kong: Baidu and Google. They both provide a type of service called Baidu Trend and Google Trend, which shows how frequently a given search term is entered into the search engine. These infographics I made reflect the trending of a word from Jan 14th, 2018 to Feb 14th, 2020. I selected some of them on this page, and you could find more on

"Liberty" and "democracy" are two words that appear a lot in the newspapers in both the HK protest and coronavirus crisis. The chart shows several peaks in 2019 summer and January 2020.

I picked the word "immigration" because some people might not speak, but they act. It is interesting that in the Baidu trend, the data of "immigration" is banned for no reason.

"Cina" is a very racist and offensive word against the Chinese. Wikipedia explains that, "In Hong Kong, "Jee-na", the Cantonese pronunciation of the term "Cina," is used in a derogative sense under the backdrop of ongoing local tensions between Hong Kong and Mainland China, for example by Hong Kong localist politicians Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung during their controversial swearing-in as members of the Hong Kong legislature. The Hong Kong Government's legal representative Benjamin Yu said that the term is 'widely used by Hong Kong independence advocates'] and cited the Wikipedia source in Court."

"50 cents party"
"50 cents party" originates from the allegation that Chinese authorities paid each internet commenter 50 cents per comment to ask them to post comments that benefit the Chinese communist party, to manipulate public opinion on the internet. It is also used as a derogatory term against people with perceived pro-CPC or Chinese nationalist views.

"No-hopers" (废青) is a very new Chinese world that was created in the 2019 Hong Kong protest. It was heavily used by media in Mainland China to describe Hong Kong protestors.

After a burning summer and frigid winter, liberty and democracy are still yet to come. What's worse, they are stigmatized, under duress, and violated. In this complex context, nationalism, hatred, manipulation are celebrating a carnival, a rape. I am the witness of this raping. I created this painting to express my anger, my mourn.