Reblog> Digital Neuroland

Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters with a brain scanner on his head

Via Tony Sampson. Freely available digital publication, follow the link

Digital Neuroland by Rizosfera

Very pleased to be part of this great series…

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Contents

Introduction by Rizosfera
Digital Neuroland. An interview with Tony D. Sampson  by Rizosfera
Contagion Theory Beyond the Microbe
‘Tarde as Media Theorist’: an interview with Tony D. Sampson by Jussi Parikka
Crowd, Power and Post-democracy in 21st Century by Obsolete Capitalism
Crowds vs publics, Ukraine vs Russia, the Gaza crisis, the contagion theory and netica – a dialogue with Tony D. Sampson by Rares Iordache

(Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and Aspirational Work – Brooke Erin Duffy

Via Culture Digitally.

This looks like an interesting read by Brooke Erin Duffy. Although I know what Duffy calls here “aspirational work” is popular, I have been a bit surprised by how many of our students at Exeter actively do this kind of work – mostly fashion vlogging. I have had at least one dissertation on the topic for each of the last three years and many of the videos produced for my final year option module draw on these themes. Those I’ve spoken to are acutely aware of the nuances of the negotiations of different norms and values – ‘authenticity’ and getting paid don’t always sit well together it seems.

I hope I have the chance to check out this book so I can actually learn more about what I can only vaguely sketch (perhaps wrongly) at the moment, I hope some of those who read this will too…

Book Announcement: (Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and Aspirational Work

Fashion bloggers and Instagrammers seem to enjoy a coveted lifestyle–one replete with international jet-setting, designer-comped fetes, and countless other caption-worthy moments. Yet the attention lavished on these so-called “influencers” draws attention away from a much larger class of social media content creators: those aspiring to “make it” amid a precarious, hyper-competitive creative economy.

I tell their story in my new book (Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love: Gender, Social Media, and Aspirational Work, and I’m grateful to my publisher Yale University Press for allowing me to share the first chapter with you.

The book focuses on female content creators and draws upon in-depth interviews with bloggers, vloggers, designers, and more. I learned that, often, these young women were motivated by the wider culture’s siren call to “get paid to do what you love.” But their experiences often fell short of the promise: only a few rise above the din to achieve major success. The rest are un(der)- paid, remunerated with deferred promises of “exposure” or “visibility”–even as they work long hours to satisfy brands and project authenticity to observant audiences.

A grueling balancing act is required, one that I explore through the lens of “aspirational labor.” As both a practice and a worker ideology, aspirational labor shifts content creators’ focus from the present to the future, dangling the prospect of a career where labor and leisure coexist.

Despite the book’s emphasis on gendered work, the concept of “aspirational labor” offers a framework for understanding, critiquing, and anticipating larger transformations in the social media economy. Indeed, the book closes by exploring the striking parallels between social media aspirants’ self-branding labor and the work so many of us undertake in contemporary academe.

CFP> “VIRAL/GLOBAL Popular Culture and Social Media: An International Perspective” 13th Sept 17 CAMRI

Via Tony Sampson.

“VIRAL/GLOBAL Popular Culture and Social Media: An International Perspective” The University of Westminster Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), Sept 13th 2017

Date:
13 September 2017
Time: 9:00am to 7:00pm
Location: 309 Regent Street Regent Campus, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HW – View map

Gone-Viral-event-main-photo

Conference organised by the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI)

Keynote Panel

  • Nancy Baym 
  • Emily Keightley
  • Dave Morley (TBC)
  • Tony D Sampson
  • Paddy Scannell

This interdisciplinary conference aims to examine how and why everyday popular culture is produced and consumed on digital platforms. There is increasing interest in studying and discussing the linkages between popular cultural and social media, yet there exist important gaps when comparing such cultural phenomena and modes of consumption in a global, non-west-centric context. The conference addresses a significant gap in theoretical and empirical work on social media by focusing on the politics of digital cultures from below and in the context of everyday life. To use Raymond Williams’s phrase, we seek to rethink digital viral cultures as ‘a whole way of life’; how ‘ordinary’, everyday digital acts can amount to forms of ‘politicity’ that can redefine experience and what is possible.

The conference will examine how social media users engage with cultural products in digital platforms. We will also be assessing how the relationship between social media and popular cultural phenomena generate different meanings and experiences.

The conference engages with the following key questions:

  • How do online users in different global contexts engage with viral/popular cultures?
  • How can the comparative analysis of different global contexts help us contribute to theorising emergent viral cultures in the age of social media?
  • How do viral digital cultures redefine our experience of self and the world?

We welcome papers from scholars that will engage critically with particular aspects of online popular cultures. Themes may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Analysing viral media texts: method and theory
  • Theorising virality: new/old concepts
  • Rethinking popular culture in the age of social media
  • Social media, politicity and the viral
  • The political economy of viral cultures
  • Memes, appropriation, collage, virality and trash aesthetics
  • Making/doing/being/consuming viral texts
  • Hybrid strategies of anti-politics in digital media
  • Viral news/Fake news
  • Non-mainstream music, protest, and political discussion
  • Capitalism and viral marketing

PROGRAMME AND REGISTRATION

This one-day conference, taking place on Wednesday, 13th of September 2017, will consist of a keynote panel and panel sessions. The fee for registration for all participants, including presenters, will be £40, with a concessionary rate of £15 for students, to cover all conference documentation, refreshments and administration costs.

DEADLINE FOR ABSTRACTS

The deadline for abstracts is Monday 10 July 2017. Successful applicants will be notified by Monday 17 July of 2017. Abstracts should be 250 words. They must include the presenter’s name, affiliation, email and postal address, together with the title of the paper and a 150-word biographical note on the presenter. Please send all these items together in a single Word file, not as pdf, and entitle the file and message with ‘CAMRI 2017’ followed by your surname. The file should be sent by email to Events Coordinator Karen Foster at har-events@westminster.ac.uk

Original: https://www.westminster.ac.uk/call-for-papers-viral-global-popular-cultures-and-social-media-an-international-perspective

The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto

Via dmf. Definitely worth watching >>


“This dream of utopia can encourage us to forget that outer space will not save us from injustice and that cyberspace was prefigured upon a “master/slave” relationship.

While we are often Othered, we are not aliens.

Though our ancestors were mutilated, we are not mutants.

Post-black is a misnomer.

Post-colonialism is too.

The most likely future is one in which we only have ourselves and this planet.”

The rest is here: http://martinesyms.com/the-mundane-afrofuturist-manifesto/

See also: http://blackradicalimagination.com

Digital Everyday – conference at KCL this weekend

This looks interesting… via Tony Sampson

THE DIGITAL EVERYDAY CONFERENCE

Location
Strand Campus – King’s College London
Category
Conference/Seminar
When
06/05/2017 (10:30-18:30)
Contact
Please direct enquiries to digitalculture@kcl.ac.uk

Sign up to the CDC mailing list here

The conference is paid and registration is essential. Registration closes midday on 4 May.

The Digital Everyday: Exploration or Alienation?

This international conference aims at exploring the digital everyday, understood as the transformation of everyday life practices brought about by digital technology. From how we buy, walk around, get a cab, love, break up, go to bed, meet new people and sexual partners to the way we rate services, turn on the fridge, exercise, eat, use social media and apps, Big Data is reshaping some of the most basic activities in our lives.

The conference will explore these digitally enabled transformations by looking at a number of domains affected by these shifts, for instance: of work and leisure, of friendship and love, of habits and routines. We will also explore a number of overarching dynamics and trends in the digital world that contribute to these transformations, including: processes of digital individualisation and aggregation; the elisions of spatial and temporal barriers; trends towards quantification and datafication; and the dialectic between control and alienation.

Please click here to see the full programme 

(Please note that refreshements will be provided but delegates will need to get their own lunch)

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A ‘new realism’ and post-truth

In a recording of a very lively double-header presentation by Maurizio Ferraris and Martin Scherzinger which has been podcast by Data & Society there’s some interesting discussion of Ferraris’ formulation of a ‘new realism‘ (which is sort of sympathetic to but perhaps distinct from speculative realisms) in relation to how we might understand ‘truth’ and truth claims and so how we might understand how ‘understanding’ works in relation digitally mediation.

Both Ferraris and Scherzinger are entertaining speakers but Scherzinger in particular offers some very incisive comments around how we can understand the sorts of manoeuvres different people are making around the constitutions and discussion of ‘theory’ (taken in its most general understanding).

Anyway… it’s an interesting listen:

Post-Truth and New Realities: Algorithms, Alternative Facts, and Digital Ethics

More tales of the automative imaginary

A warehouse worker and robot

Here’s some links that further sketch out some of what I’ve been thinking about as an ‘automative imaginary’. I’ve offered links with a bit of brief commentary at the bottom…

Evidence That Robots Are Winning the Race for American Jobs – in the NYT, pointing to research undertaken by two economists, Acemoglu and Restrepo, published by the (American) National Bureau of Economic ResearchRobots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets (to which I have no access), with a commentary on the Centre for Economic Policy Research‘s Vox site. What is curious for me here is how one can evaluate the method of the researchers and what the assumptions they make say about how we (are invited to) understand automation. There’s some interesting geography in there too! E.g. see the choropleth map of “exogenous exposure to robots” below

How will the rise of automation and AI affect the workforce and economy moving forward? – Francis Fukuyama offers his answer to how automation and AI (interesting easy slip between those as almost a form of equivalence, which is open to significant debate/critique) may or may not “affect” the economy and, in particular, jobs – in the US.

It’s interesting how much of what we are offered in terms of a rationale for automation is a fairly simplistic robots replace workers sort of story. In this regard, it’s worth remembering what the MacDonalds CEO Ed Rensi flippantly observed as a canonical example (documented in this post on Fusion):

former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi made news by going on Fox Business and declaring that ongoing protests in the campaign for a $15 minimum wage were encouraging the automation of fast food jobs. The segment goes on for seven minutes, but here’s the meat of it:

I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry – it’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries – it’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe

Nevertheless, other economists will tell you that processes of automation have, historically, created new kinds of jobs as they apparently ‘destroy’ others. For example, Deloitte, in their report “Technology and People: The great job creating machine“, suggest that while manual labour and routine jobs have been significantly automated since 1992, there has been an even larger growth in ‘care’ (and service) and ‘cognitive’ work in the UK labour market. So you see fewer people in manufacturing but more analysts, baristas and carers.

Of course, to see it as whole “jobs” that are being automated is somewhat misleading – another aspect of the automative imaginary that owes more to the depiction of automation in 1950/60s cartoons than in the actually existing forms of automation. As many commentators point out, it’s parts of jobs or tasks that become automated, which results in a need to reorganise that work. As the management consultants McKinsey point out in a report in 2016:

currently demonstrated technologies could automate 45 percent of the activities people are paid to perform and that about 60 percent of all occupations could see 30 percent or more of their constituent activities automated, again with technologies available today

What we tend to focus on is the automation full stop, not that it isn’t all of a job and may not result in an easy equivalence of “robot in = worker out”. We imagine the robots doing it all, when, in many cases, the use of robots (when they’re actually economically viable – they have a huge initial set-up cost) require a reorganisation of systems such that the work looks different.

Another illustration of this comes from the excellent Containers podcast by Alexis Madrigal. In the final episode, Madrigal talks to Karen Levy of Cornell  about the forms automation could take in relation to truck driving (upon which Uber clearly has its sights set). Of course, again, it’s not as simple as: automate the lorries, do-away with jobs. It’s more like the process of containerisation that Madrigal is exploring – automation is as much about reorganising systems of work / labour as it is about ‘replacing’ labour. So, in the example of picking in warehouses – you might get a Kiva or Fetch/Freight robot to do the donkey work of warehousing, with the worker performing the more sophisticated movements. This is not a future of people-less spaces but rather robots following people around or being tasked in order to support the worker, the argument being this leads to greater productivity. In fact, in the eighth episode of Containers, the CEO of Fetch Robotics justifies her company’s tech by saying that, in the US, there are over 600k jobs going unfilled in warehousing and manufacturing because people don’t want to do them, with a turnover rate of those who do sign-up for such work at around 25% (I don’t know the basis or veracity of those numbers – would like to though!). Again, if true, such figures are another aspect of the expectations of what work involves and how it may be performed.

So, it seems to me we need to talk about work not simply elide it by (somewhat hysterically) referring to ‘automation’ and ‘robots’. This is something I hope to research and write more about, if I ever get the time…

An ancient twin? Facial pattern matching with ancient statues


The Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec have a exhibition about ancient ‘doubles’ or ‘twins’, as part of which you can submit your photo and a program will match your face with images of statues in the collection.

It’s been in the press and, of course, is ‘just a bit of fun’, but its also sort of interesting to submit images and try and work out how the pattern matching is working – it’s not all that obvious! There’s probably something smart to say about ‘algorithms’ here, but I’ve not had enough sleep… check it out for yourself: Mon Sosie À 2000 Ans.

Here’s me and Battataï:

Media Theory Journal

Here: http://mediatheoryjournal.org/about/

Media Theory is an online, open access journal of peer-reviewed, theoretical interventions into all aspects of media and communications. Resolutely international and interdisciplinary in scope, the editors encourage submissions that critically engage with the theoretical frameworks and concepts that tend to be taken for granted in national or disciplinary perspectives.Although the journal privileges an emphasis on theory, the editors are not only concerned with theory for theory’s sake. Rather, we are interested in how theoretically-informed and -engaged interventions can contribute to the interpretation of empirical research and critique, as well as to the deprovincialization of theoretical debate – helping us understand, rather than dismiss or describe, objects of critique, and making us reconsider the validity, efficacy and legitimacy of our own particular methodological approaches.

With that in mind, we are keen to stretch the definition of ‘media’, and to receive articles that critically debate the necessity of an emphasis on ‘theory’, or which prefer to emphasise ‘theories’ or ‘philosophy’ instead. As an open access journal, we would also like to provide a forum for debates on open access, peer-review and the future of academic publishing.

The journal is online only and open access. No fees are charged to either readers or authors. All articles are published under a Creative Commons (CC-BY) licence.

Picking at the “alternative media ecosystem”

Two things on how various intersecting discourses are coming at “fake news’…  I find it interesting to see and hear how different folks are attempting to make sense of an apparent phenomenon, it’s a little like watching Foucault’s ‘discursive formation’ in action…

First, via Adrian J Ivakhiv:

Parsing the “alternative media ecosystem”

An interesting forthcoming article by University of Washington researcher Kate Starbird examines the “alternative media ecosystem” by focusing on the production of the kinds of narratives that are fairly exclusive to the “alternative,” as opposed to mainstream, “media ecosystem.” Specifically, the piece analyzes conspiratorial narratives, found on Twitter and connected web sites, that follow terrorist incidents (including the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings and the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17) and several mass shooting events.

“For each event,” Starbird writes, “rumors claimed the event had been perpetrated by someone other than the official suspects–that it was instead either a staged event performed by “crisis actors” or a “false flag” orchestrated by someone else.” (For more, see the Seattle Times and Starbird’s own summaries of the research.)

From Starbird’s scholarly article:

“After several rounds of iterative analysis to identify commonalities and distinctions across clusters of accounts, we identified three prominent political agendas: U.S. Alt Right, U.S. Alt-Left, and International Anti-Globalist.”

Second, via the ‘Team Human’ podcast, hosted by Douglas Rushkoff, Caroline Jack on ‘propaganda’:

What’s Propaganda Got To Do With It?

If “propaganda” is a useful as a media epithet because it expresses concerns about media persuasion and power, then we must allow that a variety of actors, not just states or would-be states, can influence the television networks, newspapers of record, and leading online news sources.

Our understanding of media power (and of what it means to call something propaganda) must make room for a variety of potential collective and individual influences. This includes corporations, interest groups, activist groups, and other traditional collectives; it should also include the new forms of individual and collective presence that digital communications facilitate. This includes state-sponsored online actors and ad-hoc user collectives.