Category Archives: digital economy?

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.

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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

Affective capitalism – a theme issue

Via Tony Sampson.

A theme issue of the journal ephemera on ‘affective capitalism‘, which is probably of interest to some folk in geographyland.

Affective capitalism is understood in this special issue as a mode of production where systems of organising production and distribution rely on the capacities of different bodies, human and non-human, to encounter each other. These encounters and different modes of capital that emerge are surrounded by a vast array of technologies of production, capture, valorisation, commodification and transformation. Affective capitalism appeals to our desires, it needs social relationships, and organises and establishes them. The theme issue offers a variety of theoretical approaches to analysing formations of affect in contemporary capitalism. The issue includes ten essays that address ways of capturing affect in different contexts, such as debt, media and popular culture, brain research, humanitarianism, and pedagogy.

See the whole theme issue (incl. open access PDF)

CFP> Journal of Peer Production Special Issue #11: CITY – Abstracts due 31 Jan 2017

CFP JOPP Special Issue #11: CITY – Abstracts due 31 Jan 2017

Editors: Penny Travlou, Nicholas Anastasopoulos, Panayotis Antoniadis

Call for papers

One of the welfare state’s key jurisdictions was to tend to housing and public space in benevolent ways. However, under the neoliberal dogma, commodification and gentrification threatens both the right to housing and the right to the city while in recent years, cities have become increasingly militarized and surveyed, resembling battlegrounds where freedom and democracy are under attack. At the same time, recent economic, political, and social crises have activated many counter-forces of resistance and creative alternatives for the grassroots production of food, health services, housing, networking infrastructures, and more.

The role of technology has been contradictory as well. On the one hand, the Internet has enabled some of the most remarkable peer production success stories at a global scale, such as Wikipedia and Free and Open Source Software, among many others. On the other hand, it has empowered huge corporations like Facebook and Google to fully observe and manipulate our everyday activities, and oppressive governments to censor and surveil their citizens.

At the city scale, technology offers opportunities for self-organization, like wireless community networks and numerous bottom-up techno-social initiatives, but also animates the top-down narrative of the “smart city” and the commodification of the “sharing economy as a service” provided by globally active platforms such as Airbnb and Uber. In this situation, peer production in space emerges as a vital bottom-up practice reclaiming citizen participation, and inventing new forms of community.

In this context, some core challenges arise:
– If we choose not tο rely on global players to provide peer production support at a local scale, how could different areas of peer production in the city, digital and physical, interact and support each other?
– What types of governance models can adequately support peer production in the city?

To address those challenges one needs to take into consideration the following:
– Lessons learned from the Internet and how they may be incorporated in the context-specific realities of the city.
– Knowledge-transfer methodologies across different localities.
– Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations (urban studies, media studies, sociology, architecture, cultural geography, informatics etc.).
– Possible collaborations and synergies between activists that fight for the “right to the city” and those that fight for the “right to the Internet”.
-Knowedge/experience transfer between non-urban settings (i.e. intentional communities, ecocommunities, the Transition movement, etc.) and the urban movements.
– Inquiry into research methods and methodologies to be developed and used for analysing ICT-mediated peer production in urban space.

This special issue aims to explore a wide variety of alternative and innovative peer practices, like urban agriculture, food sustainability, solidarity economy, right to the city movements, cooperative housing, community networks, P2P urbanism tactics, co-design practices and more, that are directly reflected in the production of urban space. We are particularly interested in novel combinations of theory, methodologies, and practices that can contribute to peer production in the city and enable new synergies between projects and communities.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
– Urban commons and peer production
– Case studies of innovative peer practices approached from different perspectives
– Comparative case studies on patterns of commoning and think-global / act-local methodologies
– The regional dimension: examples from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia
– Political issues of autonomy, hegemony, labour, gender, geopolitical and post-colonial perspectives
– Alternative forms of education and learning tools for promoting self-organization and community
– Innovative governance tools for peer production in the city
– Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary methodological approaches
– Urban studies and the right to the (hybrid) city
– Open source urbanism/architecture
– Recycling/upcycling vs buying: making, consuming or prosuming the city?

Important dates
Abstract submission: 31 January 2017
Notification to authors: 15 February 2017
Submission of full paper: 15 May 2017
Reviews to authors: 15 July 2017
Revised papers: 15 September 2017
Signals due: 10 October 2017
Issue release: October/November 2017

Submission guidelines
Abstracts of 300-500 words are due by January 31, 2017 and should be sent to city@peerproduction.net>. All peer reviewed papers will be reviewed according to Journal of Peer Production guidelines. See http://peerproduction.net/peer-review/process/. Full papers and materials are due by May 15, 2017 for review. Peer reviewed papers should be around 8,000 words. We also welcome experimental, alternative contributions, like testimonies, interviews and artistic treatments, whose format will be discussed case by case with the editors.

*This special issue was initiated during the Hybrid City III (Athens) conference and developed further during the IASC Urban Commons (Bologna) and Habitat III (Quito) conferences.

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…

The Ethics of Information Literacy

Via Michael Sacasas

Yesterday, I caught Derek Thompson of The Atlantic discussing the problem of “fake news” on NPR’s Here and Now. It was all very sensible, of course. Thompson impressed upon the audience the importance of media literacy. He urged listeners to examine the provenance of the information they encounter. He also cited an article that appeared in […]

Read the full article.

Reblog> Postdoc job on ProgCity project – great opportunity

This is a great opportunity for someone broadly working in the areas of interest specified below…

Post advertised: Postdoc on ProgCity project

We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher (14 month contract) to join the Programmable City project.  The researcher will critically examine:

  • the political economy of smart city technologies and initiatives; the creation of smart city markets; the inter-relation of urban (re)development and smart city initiatives; the relationship between vendors, business lobby groups, economic development agencies, and city administrations; financialization and new business models; and/or,
  • the relationship between the political geography of city administration, governance arrangements, and smart city initiatives; political and legal geographies of testbed urbanism and smart city initiatives; smart city technologies and governmentality.

There will be some latitude to negotiate with the principal investigator the exact focus of the research undertaken. While some of the research will require primary fieldwork (Dublin/Boston), it is anticipated it will also involve the secondary analysis of data already generated by the project.

More details on the post and how to apply can be found on the university HR website.  Closing date: 5th December.

The awkwardness of data debates, or how social scientists & policymakers don’t talk

I feel prompted to write something I’ve been puzzling over for a while because of a tweet and post on medium [The commodification of data, by Ade Adewunmi] I saw recently:

It’s a good post, but for some academic social scientists this is now an established argument that’s been developed, been the subject of conferences and books and so on. For a while now, I’ve had a sense of an awkward gap between the conversations about the various concerns for ‘data’ I witness through social media. In particular, I’ve been struck by how different the conversations are between (social sciences) academics from those involved in the development and running of ‘digital’ government services*. I recognise that the following is a bit of a caricature but the quick characterisation serves to assist the wider point I’m interested in exploring.

The fellow academics I follow (mostly in geography but from across the social sciences) have a relatively developed set of political and ethical arguments about the analysis (commercial & governmental–often blurred), big-ness,  collecting/gathering, transformation and so on of digital ‘data’, more often than not with reference to tropes around governance, labour, privacy and surveillance and ‘subjectivity’ (usually in the frame of how we are made individual subjects). So, ‘data’ in this set of debates may signal, for some, negative connotations of commercial or institutional ‘big brother’ and so on. There, of course, plenty of reasons to feel this way.

The digital government services folk, and some of the digital research services people (e.g. from JISC), that I follow often have more diverse and opaque (to me) views. A common foundation for many is the broadly liberal set of arguments for ‘open‘ networked services, somewhere between Stewart Brand’s libertarianism (in the vein of the arguments around “information wants to be free“) and the systematic optimistic liberalism of the W3C: “web for all, web on everything“. Some blog and tweet about the challenges of implementing that ethos and the various systems/techniques developed as a result within the auspices of government. Others write about what is and can be achieved by pursuing the ‘open’ agenda in government. More often that not, there is a positive and ‘progressive’ slant to the debate – developing a ‘common good’ (for want of a better phrase).

The debates do not crossover in my experience. They have their own  pet concepts and specialist terminology, with academics (like me) banging on about ‘dataveillance’, ‘discipline’ and ‘control’, governmentality, and, of course, ‘neoliberalism’; whereas the digital government folk I follow can talk about ‘digital’ and ‘open’ (as nouns), ‘agile‘ and ‘lean‘ (also sometimes nouns) practices. I am not saying any of this is representative, simply pointing out that the kinds of conversation are rather different. Neither of these groupings (as I characterise them) talk about or suggest policy in any detail, which is interesting. Social scientists studying ‘data’ (etc) often discuss methodological technique and diagnose what are perceived to be negative aspects of digital systems, whereas digital government folk are often highlighting progress being made in making ‘public’ data and associated services ‘open’ and more accessible. This may be an issue of ‘methods’. To be (perhaps overly) general – the social scientists I follow do particular kinds of, often, politically inflected research, whereas the digital government folk I follow are attempting to build politically neutral services. So, here, the academics are looking for expressions of power and politics, the digital government folk are attempting to minimise their effects.

We are left with what appears to be an unfortunate gap in a possibly fruitful conversation – there are constructive ways that academic researchers can offer insights into how opaque power structures can operate and, likewise, the digital government folk actually have experience of making complex digital systems for government. At present, in my Twitter stream I see (at best) mutual suspicion and often just totally separate conversations. There are moments though and some academics are clearly engaging albeit ‘critically’, e.g.

I recognise my partiality – that there are more than likely more in-depth conversations going on that I’m missing and I do think there’s some really positive work going on, for example as part of the Programmable City project – for example see the great talk by Sung-Yueh Perng below, that is attempting to look at what it means to build digital public services and the kinds of contributions social scientists (like me – there are lots of other kinds of course!) can make.

I welcome suggestions and comments about this, so please do get in touch.

Sung-Yueh Perng – Creating infrastructures with citizens: An exploration of Beta Projects, Dublin City Council from The Programmable City on Vimeo.

* I am not claiming that those I follow on Twitter and are pigeonholing with this category are representative in any way, this just works for this broad example.

“At play on the field of ghosts” – James Bridle on code/spaces of competitive sport

Reflecting upon the increasing instrumentation of the sporting field off play, for spectating, e.g. the ‘Hanwha chickens‘, and for the judgement of rules, e.g. ‘HawkEye’, James Bridle has written a nice piece on Medium about how the idea/ideal of ‘sport’ may be getting translated into something else…

This distinction between the actuality of the event and the fidelity of its recreation is narrow and could easily be dismissed as just another conjuration of spectacular TV coverage, were its remit limited to mere representation. But in the hyper-competitive domain of sports, lubricated with broadcasting and gambling dollars, recreation turns into prediction, and representation into judgement. The distinction between what is seen and what occurs becomes crucial.

More and more, the practice of human adjudication in sports is being crowded out by the supposed superiority of machine perception; a perception which is based on the recreation and prediction of real events, rather than their explicit witnessing. Since 2001, the Hawk-Eye computer system has become increasingly ubiquitous in major sporting competitions, combining machine vision with motion analysis to not only declare where precisely a ball touched or crossed a line, but where the ball would have gone if it were not rudely interrupted.