Category Archives: digital studies

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.

Microsoft Cognitive Services

Microsoft Cognitive Services (sounds like something from a Phillip K. Dick novel) have opened up APIs, which you can call on (req. subscription), to outsource forms of machine learning. So, if you want to identify faces in pictures or videos you can call on the “Face API“, for example. Obviously, this is all old news… but, it’s sort of interesting to maybe think about how this foregrounds the homogenisation of process – the apparent ‘power’ of these particular programmes (accessed via their APIs) may be their widespread use.

This might be of further interest when we consider things like the “Emotion API” through which (in line with many other forms of programmatic measure of the display or representation of ’emotion’ or ‘sentiment’) the programme scores a facial expression along several measures”, listed in the free example as: “anger”, “contempt”, “disgust”,” fear, “happiness”, “neutral”, “sadness”, “surprise”. For each image you’ll get a table of scores for each recognised face. Have a play – its beguiling, but of course then perhaps prompts the sorts of questions lots of people have been asking about how ‘affect’ and emotions can get codified (e.g. Massumi) and the politics and ethics of the ‘algorithms’ and such like that do these things (e.g. Beer).

I am probably late to all of this and seeing significance here because it’s relatively novel to me (not the tech itself but the ‘easy-to-use’ API structure), nevertheless it seems interesting, to me at least, that these forms of machine learning are being produced as mundane through being made abundant, as apparently straightforward tools. Maybe what I’m picking up on is that these APIs, the programmes they grant access to, are relatively transparent, whereas much of what various ‘algorithm studies’ folk look at is opaque.  Microsoft’s Cognitive Services make mundane what, to some, are very political technologies.

 

Institute of Network Cultures podcast

This looks interesting… I confess I’ve not listened yet.

The INC has a new publication format: the Zero Infinite podcast!

In May 2016, we invited two podcast hosts to our symposium on art criticism: Stephanie Afrifa (of Nation of Overthinkers podcast network) and Botte Jellema (host of De Eeuw van de Amateur (The Century of the Amateur) podcast). They spoke about the medium with such enthusiasm, that one of our affiliated researchers, Nadine Roestenburg, decided to start her own podcast on post-digital art and we soon felt it was time for the INC to try our hand at it as well! Botte came back to teach us some more skills and to let us experience the delight that is a good microphone. We tested and experimented for some time, and are now very happy to be able to present the very first episode of Zero Infinite to you!

LISTEN TO THE FIRST EPISODE HERE.

The podcast is hosted by Miriam Rasch, and cover topics like digital publishing, economic alternatives, revenue models in the arts and online culture. The first episode features interviews with Alex Foti, Baruch Gottlieb and Henry Warwick, and a discussion on precarity and anti-austerity measures. The latter half of the episode is a homage to the work of the late Mark Fisher. We discuss his ideas on neoliberalism and its influence on individual wellbeing though clips from his talk at MyCreativity in 2014.

Subscribe to our Soundcloud channel, or find the newest episode on our publications page.

“Masterclass with Melissa Gregg” at University of Bristol in Feb.

This looks really interesting. Mel Gregg has done some excellent work and is a good communicator so I’m sure this is a great opportunity…

Masterclass with Dr Melissa Gregg 

27th February 2017, 9:30—17:00

Dr Gregg is a leading world scholar in the field of gender, technology and critical management studies. She is best known for her ethnographic research of information professionals in the book Work’s Intimacy (Polity 2011), and as co-editor of the influential collection The Affect Theory Reader (with Gregory Seigworth, Duke 2010). Dr Gregg is currently working as a Principal Engineer at Intel Corporation and is exceptionally well placed to address the challenges in bridging the gap between organisational scholarship and practice.

This Masterclass is aimed at postgraduate students, academic staff and the wider community and will engage the participants in a critical, interdisciplinary debate on gender, subjectivity, organisations and organising. The day will be organised around recent themes in Dr Gregg’s work that explore technology, gender and culture in Silicon Valley; and methodologies for studying work and society.

Schedule for the Day

9.30-10.00am – Refreshments

10.00-11.30am – Counterproductive: The history of time management from a feminist perspective

11.30-12.00pm – Refreshments

12.00-1.30pm – Technology and the future of work

1.30-2.30pm – Lunch

2.30-4.30pm – Group Discussion: Gender, Culture and Methods

4.30-5.00pm – Refreshments Registration

The Masterclass is free and participants should register by emailing one of the organisers. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Please also state any dietary requirements. Spaces are limited to 30 participants.

For further information, please contact one of the organisers.

 

Investigating Google’s revolving door with governments – Tactical Tech Collective

Some really interesting work from the Tactical Team looking at the ways in which different people and their skills and knowledges move in and out of government and the ‘Alphabet empire’. Worth a full read, but here’s a snippet to whet the appetite…

The Alphabet Empire by Tactical Tech and La Loma as shown in The Glass Room in New York. Based on openly available information, this 3-D infographic combines a quote from its chairman, Eric Schmidt, with a mapping of its acquisitions and investments.
By Google’s own admission, the company, like many others, cultivates close relationships with governmental bodies and public officials. Google disclosed that in 2015 it spent over €4 million on lobbying the European Union – considerably more than the €1 million on lobbying spent just three years previously in 2012.

But some of Google’s relationships with public bodies and officials come with a smaller price tag: Over the past ten years at least 80 people have been identified to have moved jobs between Google and European governments.

It’s this “revolving door” that formed the basis of our investigation. We started out with a number of questions: who were these people who had moved from Google to government or vice versa? Where exactly did they move from and to, and when? And most importantly how many of these questions could we find answers to using open, publicly-available information?

Here’s what we learned, and how we did it.

Affect & Social Media 3.0 CFP

Via Tony Sampson

Affect and Social Media#3 2nd CFP

main2Call for presentations and artworks

Affect and Social Media#3

experience

engagement 

entanglement                                

Including the Sensorium Art Show (the sequel)

Event Date: Thurs 25th May, 2017

Venue: University of East London, Docklands Campus

Confirmed keynote: Prof Jessica Ringrose (UCL) 

https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=JLRIN58

Call for 15min presentations and artworks

The organizers of A&SM#3 welcome proposals for 15min presentations and artworks that interpret and explore the affective, feely and emotional encounters with social media grasped through the following themes:

  1. Experience
  2. Engagement
  3. Entanglement 

Presentations and artworks can widely interpret each theme, but preference will be given to proposals that respond in two ways.

Firstly, the organizers are particularly interested in creative responses (academic and artistic) to recent social media events – the US election, for example. So proposals might address how the Trump win allows us to develop a fresh understanding of shared experiences, emotional engagements or new entanglements with social media.

Secondly, we ask presenters and artists to consider how their approach to affect and social media can be put to work in an education context. For example, how can the potential of affect theory reach out across teaching practices and develop novel understandings of the political nature and transformative possibilities of teaching.

The academic part of this call is open to experienced scholars, new researchers and postgrad students from across the disciplinary boundaries of affect studies and related areas of study interested in theorizing and working with emotion and feelings in a social media context. We welcome a good mixture of innovative conceptual and methodological approaches.

The Sensorium Art Exhibit will interweave the conference proceedings and bring it to a close with a special show, alongside free drinks and nibbles.

15min presentations and artwork proposals to: t.d.sampson@uel.ac.uk

Please include 200 word max description and short bio including academic affiliation and relevant links to previous work and/or website profile.

DEADLINE: Tues 28th Feb 2017.

Full registration details will be made available from 27th Jan via UEL event page.

https://www.uel.ac.uk/Events/2017/05/Affect-and-Social-Media-3

Spacing social media – seminar at Swansea (18th Jan)

I am participating in the geography seminar series at Swansea next week. I’ll be talking about some of the ideas that came out of the work we did with social media for the Contagion project.

Mostly the talk is about how ideas about space and spatial experience are important to understanding social media. This, very broadly, appears in two ways: (1) like any technology, how we use social media performs, reflects and reveals forms of spatial understanding and experience; and (2) both the methods and the subsequent analysis we do of social media, as geographers (but also that done in other disciplinary contexts), carry assumptions about space that perhaps need to be made more explicit (especially when methodological techniques carry contradictory assumptions about space to the ideas we then employ in our analysis). This comes from a far-too-long reflection on a manuscript written for publication that had some issues and in reflecting on those issues I realised that there were some interesting geographical issues to make more explicit.

Anyway, the seminar is at 2pm on the 18th of January in Glyndwr E (see 11.1 on this campus map). Hope to see a few people there…

Here’s the abstract:

Spacing Social Media

This talk will interrogate the promise as well as the critical implications of the emerging geographies of social media. In particular, the spacing of social media will be addressed in terms of the ways we might understand and theorise space and spatiality. There will be three parts to the discussion: First, the promise of social media research is addressed through an initial exploration of how those media are ineluctably entangled in changes within social, economic and political fields. Second, the translations of data in social media research are addressed through the applications and techniques involved. Third, this provides a basis for subsequent discussion of the theoretical implications of digital data methods and their spacings. I will argue that the techniques and discourses of social media methods both imply and challenge forms of spatial understanding that present challenges for geographical research.

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.