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Grant number like: FT-260244-18

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Matthew Crain
Miami University (Flushing, NY 11367-1597)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 7/31/2018

The Rise of Surveillance Advertising in America, from the 1990s to the 2000s

Research and writing of a book on the history of advertising and the surveillance of consumer activity on the Internet.

Surveillance has become the internet’s de facto business model. Everyday users have a sense that the web is watching, but the details and implications of these practices remain opaque. In particular we lack historical accounts of how and why this seemingly unintelligible system of digital surveillance was constructed. My book project, First Watch: The Rise of Surveillance Advertising, gives internet surveillance a much needed origin story by chronicling the development of its most important historical catalyst: web advertising. Set in the 1990s, the project offers an institutional history of the online advertising system and considers the political-economic and social consequences of the web’s rapid embrace of consumer monitoring. As one of the first book-length historical treatments of web surveillance, this project has the potential to make significant contributions to the field of media studies and to broader public debates about big data, privacy, and politics in the digital age.