What Does Our 'Shadow Data' Say About Us?

Jasmine Takanikos helps big brands hone in on their unique identity. She’s known for asking creative people the right questions, and says that when it comes to identity and figuring out who we are, it can be more powerful to celebrate who we’re not.

Read an edited transcript below, or listen to the full interview on the First Contact podcast.

We’re never Googling ‘the feeling of falling in love’ … It doesn’t record any of the human subtleties, you know?


Jasmine Takanikos: I’ve been…putting a term around this idea of “shadow data” and whatever that could potentially look like. Because if we’re saying that all data is smart… that all data can learn you or that you can look at the content of my last three years and say…that it is a version of me.

But I think if we rely on our data to become AI, we’re gonna get a lot of negativity because we’re never Googling, “Oh, that sunset looks beautiful.” We’re never Googling, “the feeling of falling in love.” It doesn’t record any of the human subtleties…this massive data around humanity that isn’t negative, that isn’t the searcher, that isn’t the seeker, that isn’t “there’s a problem and I’m looking to solve it…”

We have to look at data as what it is, you know? If you’re really good at manipulation, you get one thing right. And you could look at manipulation and curation as the same thing depending on who you are… There’s the business of being an influencer and there’s the business of showing only certain things in the positive and the best angles and the best lighting. You could look at that as highly problematic and actually being more robotic than human.