Reblog> New paper: A smart place to work? Big data systems, labour, control, and modern retail stores

Gilbreth motion studies light painting

From the Programmable City team, looks interesting:

New paper: A smart place to work? Big data systems, labour, control, and modern retail stores

The modern retail store is a complex coded assemblage and data-intensive environment, its operations and management mediated by a number of interlinked big data systems. This paper draws on an ethnography of a superstore in Ireland to examine how these systems modulate the functioning of the store and working practices of employees. It was found that retail work involves a continual movement between a governance regime of control reliant on big data systems which seek to regulate and harnesses formal labour and automation into enterprise planning, and a disciplinary regime that deals with the symbolic, interactive labour that workers perform and acts as a reserve mode of governmentality if control fails. This continual movement is caused by new systems of control being open to vertical and horizontal fissures. While retail functions as a coded assemblage of control, systems are too brittle to sustain the code/space and governmentality desired.

Access the PDF here

Reblog> Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin, Mapping Cyberspace (free book download)

Via Stuart Elden.

Mapping Cyberspace was a formative introduction to ‘geography’ for me as an undergraduate digital arts student. It certainly influenced my (all-too-naive) BSc dissertation ideas… It’s great this is available, it documents so many things that seemed so vital at the time and that now appear almost like peculiar mirages.

Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin, Mapping Cyberspace (free book download)

Mapping Cyberspace – Martin Dodge & Rob KitchinMartin Dodge and Rob Kitchin’s 2001 book Mapping Cyberspace is now available as a free download. There is also a website about the book here.

Mapping Cyberspace is a ground-breaking geographic exploration and critical reading of cyberspace, and information and communication technologies. The book:

  • * provides an understanding of what cyberspace looks like and the social interactions that occur there
  • * explores the impacts of cyberspace, and information and communication technologies, on cultural, political and economic relations
  • * charts the spatial forms of virtual spaces
  • * details empirical research and examines a wide variety of maps and spatialisations of cyberspace and the information society

has a related website at http://www.MappingCyberspace.com.

This book will be a valuable addition to the growing body of literature on cyberspace and what it means for the future.

Excellent postgrad opportunities with Data Justice Lab

From: Data Justice Lab

Funding is currently available for students in postgraduate programmes at Cardiff University, including the MA Digital Media and Society and the PhD in Journalism (with a focus on Digital Media and Society). Applications for the coming academic year (2017/18) are still accepted. Students are welcome to work on issues of data justice and become part of the Lab.

The MA Digital Media and Society explores current challenges in areas such as big data, digital rights, social media, digital culture and economy, internet governance and online politics. The Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies also offers a wide range of other MA programmes in areas such as journalism studies, data journalism, and political communication.

Cardiff University offers Master’s Excellence Scholarships in the form of a tuition fee discount. To be eligible for the scholarships, please apply for the MA programme no later than 15 June.

The School’s PhD programme encourages students to engage with one of its research clusters, including Digital Media and SocietyApplications that are submitted by Friday 2nd June will be considered for an ESRC studentship programme that addresses research challenges in areas such as digital infrastructure and the use of data.

Cardiff’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) is one of the world’s leading departments in Media & Communications. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework the school was ranked 2nd in the UK for the quality of its journalism, media and communications research.

Farmers hacking tractors

To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America’s heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that’s cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.

Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform “unauthorized” repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time.

“When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don’t have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it,” Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. “Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix].”

Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware

Reblog> Book Launch: Playful Mapping in the Digital Age

Via Institute of Network Cultures.

Generally wary of anything with “digital age” in the title, but good to see some geographers featuring in ‘digital cultures’ type networks…

Book Launch Playful Mapping in the Digital Age

MONDAY 13TH OF MARCH, 17:00 – 18:15 @SPUI25, AMSTERDAM.

With keynote lectures by Michiel de Lange and, Emma Fraser and Clancy Wilmott.

From Mah-Jong to the introduction of Prussian war-games, through to the emergence of location-based play: maps and play share a long and diverse history. In this programme, we will launch the book Playful Mapping in The Digital Age, which shows how playing and mapping can be liberating, dangerous, subversive and, performative.

>> Sign up here.

Playful Mapping in the Digital Age shows how mapping and playing unfold in the digital age and in which ways the relations between these apparently separate tropes are increasingly woven together. Fluid networks of interaction have encouraged a proliferation of hybrid forms of mapping and playing. A rich plethora of contemporary case-studies, ranging from fieldwork, golf, activism and automotive navigation to pervasive and desktop-based games, emphasizes this trend. Examining these cases shows how mapping and playing can form productive synergies, but also encourages new ways of being, knowing and shaping our everyday lives. This afternoon, the Members of the Playful Mapping Collective explore how play can be more than just an object or practice, and instead focus on its potential as a method for understanding maps and spatiality.

CFP> Fear and Loathing of the Online Self, Rome, May 22-23, 2017

Via Institute of Network Cultures… looks interesting… be good to see a wider variety of folks ‘participating’…

Fear and Loathing of the Online Self–A Savage Journey into the Heart of Digital Cultures

Call for Participation
Conference, Rome, May 22-23, 2017
http://networkcultures.org/online-self/

We would like to invite artists and researchers to submit proposals to join this event hosted by  John Cabot University and Universita degli Studi RomaTre in Rome, and organized in collaboration with the Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam.

The conference aims at exploring the state of the online self by raising questions about its status as a focal point of contemporary power/networks. Is the online self merely a product of software predictability and viral marketing? Is there any space left for self-determination? Or should we search elsewhere for new forms resistance by changing our political categories and perspectives? Which contradictions are at play? How and where can we locate the spaces of performativity of the online self?

Critical political-economic readings of platform capitalism do not explain nor grasp new forms of (visual) online subjectivity. There is a growing gap between the obsessive quest for measurability, big data and algorithmic regimes (such as AI/bots),and critical investigations of an emerging variety of compulsive forms taken by the online self. We need to fill this gap and bring them back together. If a humanities approach of Internet studies nurtured by artistic and activist practices aims to survive the ‘big data’ onslaught from the social sciences, then it is vital to ask what the citizen-as-user wants. To portray the population as (innocent or guilty) victims of the data monopolies is, politically speaking, a dead-end street.

The cynical condition rules: we know we’re under surveillance, yet we continue to click, like, love and share ourselves online as usual. We are told by concerned experts and libertarians that our privacy “matters” and we want to believe it; yet it silently confers a guilty stigma upon another vital need, to engage socially and culturally with others. While some preach the offline escape as a way out, most of us are so deeply invested in the everyday social media life that it is inconceivable for most of us to  leave Facebook and the like. And this not only out of desire but necessity: networking and self-sharing has become imperative for succesfully managing the double binds of the immaterial labour economy. Instead, we’d rather deal with peculiar pathologies, such as addiction, depression and solitude generated by hyper-connection and lack of connections.

Abstracts and proposals are welcome to contribute to the following sections:

1. ONLINE SUBJECTIVITY THEORY

How much free room do we have to design new identities? What aesthetic and philosophic paths and patterns does meme distribution hint at? What is the role of theory and criticism, if any, in the ever changing yet endless production of the latest user affordances, from dating sites, Tinder swipes and Snapchat lenses, to Pokemon-Go? Can we still attempt to design new modes of subjectivity, or has our role withdrawn to a mere Cassandra-like gloom and doom prediction of digital catastrophes, while start-ups (read: future monopolies) have all taken over the cool business of designing and shaping the online self?

2. BEHIND AND BEYOND SELFIES

It is easy to diagnose the selfie as a symptom of a growing narcissism of our daily digital obsessions. But how do we get beyond the predictable split between the politically correct assessment of empowerment (of young girls) against the nihilist reading of self-promotion and despair? Does criticism of today’s photography of the everyday life always have to end up giving medical prescriptions and recipes of wellbeing? What could a materialist reading of large databases and facial recognition techniques (including protection) that goes beyond media archaeology (the historical approach) and the ever-changing pop gestures involve and say? Can we still talk about the liberation of the self in the age of digital self-generation of the images?

3. ARTISTIC PRACTICES OF THE ONLINE SELF

Artists play an important role in the anticipation, and critique, of new modes of the self. What role does the artistic imagination play beyond the creative industries paradigm? How can artistic and creative avant garde practices help disrupt the trite quantitative approach and the dogma of the algorithm in defining modes and moods of the onlife self? What separates a (properly) artistic imagination and the aesthetic imagination of the online curators of selfie-constructed personas and are contemporary critical paradigms merely reproducing an understanding of online practices that are aligned with the requirements of corporation?

4. POLITICS AND AESTHETICS OF MASK DESIGN

Masks and selfies should not be seen as opposites as they both represent different modes (and moods) of being of the self. Masks create spaces of performance; they are playful and seductive (or scary) forms of self-representation that ultimately do not protect us against the computational repression of the security apparatus. What are the lessons learned from the Anonymous movement? We should come to a new social contract between the individuals, groups and the cybernetic machine. In the meanwhile, how can we make sure to protect us, and what premises are hidden in the numerous crypto-design projects that circulate?

Confirmed speakers: Wendy Chun, Ana Peraica, Jodi Dean, Marco Deseriis, Gabriella Coleman, Daniel de Zeeuw, Rebecca Stein, Vito Campanelli, Franco Berardi.

Editorial Team: Donatella Della Ratta (John Cabot University), Geert Lovink (Institute of Network Cultures/HvA), Teresa Numerico (Universita degli Studi RomaTre), Peter Sarram (John Cabot University).

Please send your proposal (max 500 words in word/pdf format), a short bio and any other material that could support your idea visually  (artwork, film links, etc) to selfieconference@johncabot.edu.  Deadline: March 1, 2017.

Reblog> Social Justice in an Age of Datafication: Launch of the Data Justice Lab

Via The Data Justice Lab.

Social Justice in an Age of Datafication: Launch of the Data Justice Lab

The Data Justice Lab will be officially launched on Friday, 17 March 2017. Join us for the launch event at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) at 4pm. Three international speakers will discuss the challenges of data justice.

The event is free but requires pre-booking at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/social-justice-in-an-age-of-datafication-launching-the-data-justice-lab-tickets-31849002223

Data Justice Lab – Launch Event – Friday 17 March 4pm – Cardiff University

Our financial transactions, communications, movements, relationships, and interactions with government and corporations all increasingly generate data that are used to profile and sort groups and individuals. These processes can affect both individuals as well as entire communities that may be denied services and access to opportunities, or wrongfully targeted and exploited. In short, they impact on our ability to participate in society. The emergence of this data paradigm therefore introduces a particular set of power dynamics requiring investigation and critique.

The Data Justice Lab is a new space for research and collaboration at Cardiff University that has been established to examine the relationship between datafication and social justice. With this launch event, we ask: What does social justice mean in age of datafication? How are data-driven processes impacting on certain communities? In what way does big data change our understanding of governance and politics? And what can we do about it?

We invite you to come and participate in this important discussion. We will be joined by the following keynote speakers:

Virginia Eubanks (New America), Malavika Jayaram (Digital Asia Hub), and Steven Renderos (Center for Media Justice).

Virginia Eubanks is the author of Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age (MIT Press, 2011) and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith (SUNY Press, 2014). She is also the cofounder of Our Knowledge, Our Power (OKOP), a grassroots economic justice and welfare rights organization. Professor Eubanks is currently working on her third book, Digital Poorhouse, for St. Martin’s Press. In it, she examines how new data-driven systems regulate and discipline the poor in the United States. She is a Fellow at New America, a Washington, D.C. think tank and the recipient of a three-year research grant from the Digital Trust Foundation (with Seeta Peña Gangadharan and Joseph Turow) to explore the meaning of digital privacy and data justice in marginalized communities.

Malavika Jayaram is the Executive Director of the Digital Asia Hub in Hong Kong. Previously she was a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she focused on privacy, identity, biometrics and data ethics. She worked at law firms in India and the UK, and she was voted one of India’s leading lawyers. She is Adjunct Faculty at Northwestern University and a Fellow with the Centre for Internet & Society, India, and she is on the Advisory Board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Steven Renderos is Organizing Director at the Center for Media Justice. With over 10 years of organizing experience Steven has been involved in campaigns to lower the cost of prison phone calls, preserving the Open Internet, and expanding community owned radio stations. Steven previously served as Project Coordinator of the Minnesotano Media Empowerment Project, an initiative focused on improving the quality and quantity of media coverage and representation of Latinos in Minnesota. He currently serves on the boards of Organizing Apprenticeship Project and La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles. Steven (aka DJ Ren) also hosts a show called Radio Pocho at a community radio station and spins at venues in NYC.

The event will be followed by a reception.

Reblog> Free Download: Digital Rights to the City

Via Mark Purcell.

2017-02-06-103004_550x790_scrot

Free Download: Digital Rights to the City

Published Today: Our Digital Rights to the City

Free to download (pdf, epub, mobi): http://meatspacepress.org/

 

‘Our Digital Rights to the City’ is a small collection of articles about digital technology, data and the city. It covers a range of topics relating to the political and economic power of technologies that are now almost inescapable within the urban environment. This includes discussions surrounding security, mapping, real estate, smartphone applications and the broader idea of a ‘right to the city’ in a post-digital world.

The collection is edited by Joe Shaw and Mark Graham and its contributing authors are Jathan Sadowski, Valentina Carraro, Bart Wissink, Desiree Fields, Kurt Iveson, Taylor Shelton, Sophia Drakopoulou and Mark Purcell.

Please follow us @meatspacepress

Join our mailing list at http://meatspacepress.org/

‘Our Digital Rights to the City’ also available free at:

* Free to download (epub, most e-readers): epub

* Free to download (pdf): pdf

* Free to download (mobi, for Kindle): mobi

* Free to read (pdf): Here

When design fiction becomes the advert(?) Amazon Go and the refiguring of trust

I think I’ve been late to this. I saw the story about Barclaycard wanting to do “cardless” credit cards but, of course, Amazon want to vertically integrate. See the first video below. Interesting that this is incredibly similar to previous ‘envisionings’ of “the future” of retail/shopping. The first thing I thought was: ‘hang on, this is  Microsoft circa 2004’, see the second video below… and I’m sure there’s been others, not least from the likes of HP Labs… I wonder where patents lie on this stuff, cos that will be a big bargaining chip.

This is interesting though insofar as, when I was writing about the Microsoft Office Labs videos in 2008/9, the ‘future’ they figured was always positioned at some distance, it was certainly not explicitly stated that this is something you should definitely expect to happen, more a kind of ‘mood music’ to capture some sensibilities of a possible future, by representing it and hooking ideas into our general  imagination of technology and society. It certainly plays on the trope of the normalisation of heavy surveillance… what else can such a system be?

The Amazon Go video is an interesting confluence of lots of contemporary trends in attempts to refigure how we imagine digital technology. Implicit in the video is a normalisation of yet-more automation (of payment, of trust). Explicit here, as already mentioned, is that these kinds of places are not ‘private’ in any way – the system “knows” you, will know your habits, manages your money and that’s ok, in fact – it’s apparently preferable (trust, again).

Amazon seem to be fairly aggressively pushing this, taking the smooth apparently effortless aesthetics of many tech design fiction videos and using this as a means to capture the idea that such technology = Amazon. Apparently there is a “beta” shop in Seattle (where else?). No doubt someone will already be writing a journal article about this as code/space and, of course it is (and just as Kitchin & Dodge suggest about airports – I wouldn’t want to be in this shop when the servers go down), but I think the thing I find more interesting is that it seems to me that this is perhaps an overtly political manoeuvre to capture the public story about what ‘currency’ is and how payment works when we take for granted higher levels of automation, through what kinds of institution and who we can trust. This is quite a different story to the blockchain, Amazon seem to be saying “let us handle the trust issue” – a pitch usually made by a bank, or PayPal…  That might be interesting to think about (I’m sure people, like Rachel O’Dwyer, already are), not least in relation to other ways ‘trust’ is being addressed (and attempts are being made to refigure it) by other companies, institutions and groups.

All this means I’ll definitely be re-writing my lecture about money for the next iteration of my “Geographies of Technology” module next term…