Reblog> WIAS Workshop: Academic Labour, Digital Media and Capitalism 31/01/18

Glitched screenshot of Antony Sher in Malcolm Bradbury's The History Man

Saw this via Phoebe Moore:

WIAS Workshop: Academic Labour, Digital Media and Capitalism

by Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies

This workshop marks the publication of the special issue “Academic Labour, Digital Media and Capitalism” in tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. We will hear presentations by experts who have contributed to the issue: guest editor Thomas Allmer (University of Stirling), Karen Gregory (University of Edinburgh) and Jamie Woodcock (LSE).

Modern universities have always been embedded in capitalism in political, economic and cultural terms. In 1971, at the culmination of the Vietnam War, a young student pointed a question towards Noam Chomsky: “How can you, with your very courageous attitude towards the war in Vietnam, survive in an institution like MIT, which is known here as one of the great war contractors and intellectual makers of this war?” Chomsky had to admit that his workplace was a major organisation conducting war research, thereby strengthening the political contradictions and inequalities in capitalist societies.

Today, universities are positioning themselves as active agents of global capital, transforming urban spaces into venues for capital accumulation and competing for international student populations for profit. Steep tuition fees are paid for precarious futures. Increasingly, we see that the value of academic labour is measured in capitalist terms and therefore subject to new forms of control, surveillance and productivity measures. Situated in this economic and political context, the new special issue of tripleC (edited by Thomas Allmer and Ergin Bulut) is a collection of critical contributions that examine universities, academic labour, digital media and capitalism.


Workshop presentations:

Anger in Academic Twitter: Sharing, Caring, and Getting Mad Online
Karen Gregory, University of Edinburgh

Digital Labour in the University: Understanding the Transformations of Academic Work in the UK
Jamie Woodcock, LSE

Theorising and Analysing Academic Labour
Thomas Allmer, University of Stirling

The workshop will be chaired by WIAS Director and tripleC co-editor Christian Fuchs. WIAS invites everybody interested to attend this afternoon of talks and discussions tackling the question of academic labour in the age of digital capitalism. A coffee break is provided.

Thomas Allmer is Lecturer in Digital Media at the University of Stirling, Scotland, UK, and a member of the Unified Theory of Information Research Group, Austria. His publications include Towards a Critical Theory of Surveillance in Informational Capitalism (Peter Lang, 2012) and Critical Theory and Social Media: Between Emancipation and Commodification (Routledge, 2015). For more information, see Thomas’ website.

Karen Gregory is a Lecturer in Digital Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, a digital sociologist and ethnographer. She researches the relationship between work, technology, and emerging forms of labour, exploring the intersection of work and labor, social media use, and contemporary spirituality. She is the co-editor of the book Digital Sociologies (Policy Press, 2017).

Jamie Woodcock is a fellow at the LSE and author of Working The Phones. His current research focuses on digital labour, the sociology of work, the gig economy, resistance, and videogames. He has previously worked as a postdoc on a research project about videogames, as well as another on the crowdsourcing of citizen science. Jamie completed his PhD in sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London and has held positions at Goldsmiths, University of Leeds, University of Manchester, Queen Mary, NYU London, and Cass Business School.

Christian Fuchs is Professor at the University of Westminster. He is the Director of the Communication and Media Research Institute (CAMRI) and Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies (WIAS). His fields of expertise are critical digital & social media studies, Internet & society, political economy of media and communication, information society theory, social theory and critical theory. He co-edits the open-access journal triple:Communication, Capitalism & Critique with Marisol Sandoval.

CFP – Beyond measure, ephemera journal

Generative Artwork Forkbomb, by Alex McLean, glitched

This looks interesting…

Beyond measure

submission deadline 1 March 2018

PDF icon CfP Beyond measure.pdf

Issue editors: Nick Butler, Helen Delaney, Emilie Hesselbo and Sverre Spoelstra

Measurement is a central task of capitalist organization. From the days of the industrial factory, when labour first came to be measured in hours, through to the time-motion studies under Taylorist regimes, measurement has involved the optimization of surplus value extraction from labour. During the 20th century, these techniques of measurement were complemented by more intrusive forms of quantification such as the use of psychological testing in the human relations school.

The will to quantify continues today with balanced scorecards and activity-based costing (Power, 2004), the discourse of employability (Chertkovskaya, et al., 2013), the monitoring of work in the service economy (Dowling, 2007), and the performativity of economics (Callon, 1998). At the same time, others point to the impossibility of measuring affective work and immaterial labour (Hardt and Negri, 2000). More generally, ‘trust in numbers’ (Porter, 1995) – based on a longstanding infatuation with the ideal of objectivity (Stengers, 2000) – is becoming characteristic of a totally quantified society in which we keep track of our diet, fitness, sleeping habits, and menstrual cycles via digital tracking technologies (Charitsis, 2016).

Quantification also lies at the heart of knowledge production in the business school (Zyphur et al., 2016). Ever since the early influence of Paul Lazarsfeld (1993) in the post-war years, management science has been preoccupied with the measurement of ‘objects’, ranging from things that are straightforwardly measurable (e.g. the height of employees in leadership positions) to things that are difficult, if not impossible, to quantify (e.g. charisma, authenticity, ethics). Despite a half-century of criticism directed at the positivist tradition in the social sciences, management science still holds to the McNamara fallacy: ‘If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist’. The politics of measurement in management theory and practice – and its link to the logic of capitalist exploitation – therefore deserve sustained critical scrutiny.

For this ephemera special issue, we invite papers that explore the stakes of measuring organizations and their members – especially in contested zones of quantification. For instance, what happens when employees are measured not just in terms of productivity but also their health and well-being (Cederström and Spicer, 2015)? What happens when leaders are measured not just in terms of bottom-line performance but also their authenticity or spirituality (Ford and Harding, 2011)? Closer to home, what happens when academics are measured not just in terms of the quality of their scholarship but also their citation rate and H-index (Nkomo, 2009)?

But we are also interested in what is beyond measure – that is, the relation between organizing and the immeasurable. Here, religion and spirituality come into view. One may think of themes such as the call for a ‘higher purpose’ in work, the role of faith and spirituality in business, and the presence of organizational figures who defy measurement (idols, spirits, ghosts, monsters, etc.). Deleuze (1995: 181) famously said that the idea that organizations have a soul is ‘the most terrifying news in the world’. For us, this is no longer news but perhaps all the more terrifying for it.

Efforts to quantify aspects of our organizational lives give rise to new and complex ethical questions around work, identity and politics. We therefore invite submissions that may include, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Measuring organizations, management and leadership
  • The excessive, the limitless and the infinite
  • Big data and algorithmic management
  • The quantified self and digital measurement technologies
  • The turn to ‘objectivity’ in the social sciences
  • Zero and nothingness
  • The performativity of measures
  • Value theory and the immeasurability of labour
  • The reevaluation of values
  • Faith and spirituality in business
  • Time-motion studies and their contemporary equivalents
  • Death and ‘the great beyond’ in organization
  • The use of psychometric instruments in management theory and practice
  • Commensuration and incommensurability in organizational theory and practice
  • The politics of performance audits
  • Measuring the immeasurable

Deadline and further information

The deadline for submissions is 1st March 2018. All submissions should be sent to one of the special issue editors: Nick Butler (nick.butler@sbs.su.se), Helen Delaney (h.delaney@auckland.ac.nz), Emilie Hesselbo (emilie.hesselbo@fek.lu.se) or Sverre Spoelstra (sverre.spoelstra@fek.lu.se)ephemeraencourages contributions in a variety of formats including articles, notes, interviews, book reviews, photo essays and other experimental modes of representation. The submissions will undergo a double-blind review process. All submissions should follow ephemera’s submission guidelines, which are available at: http://www.ephemerajournal.org/how-submit (see ‘Abc of formatting’ guide). For further information, please contact one of the special issue editors.

Reblog> Celebrating 25 years of Gender, Place and Culture

Via the Gender, Place and Culture blog.

Celebrating 25 years of Gender, Place and Culture: a note on our celebrations and the ’25 blogs’ series, by Editor Pamela Moss

It is wonderful that Gender, Place and Culture is celebrating 25 years of publication. As part of this celebration, throughout the year, Gender, Place and Culture will be a sponsor for lectures and sessions at multiple conferences. There will be a series of reviews of some of the influential books within the discipline that give some insight into how feminist geographies came to be. We will also publish a number of journal articles that show how they have transformed the wider discipline of geography, what issues are important to feminist geographies now, and what the future may hold. If this is something that appeals to you, you can find out more about it here.

The introduction of this website for Gender, Place and Culture has also opened up a new venue for publishing. In addition to announcements and calls associated with the journal, the blog has been an opportunity to write about the things feminist geographers immerse themselves in every day – what is done well and what can be done better!

In celebration of turning 25 and in honouring our commitment to showcasing the contributions of feminist geographers in the field, Anna Tarrant and Lisa Dam have commissioned a new set of blogs to be published throughout the year that speak to the interests of feminist geographers – whether it be a reflection on the ethics of research practice, on a moment in the history of the discipline, or on how to survive the challenging times we live in. We invite you to keep up with us as we post a new blog (hopefully more!) roughly every month.

We know that the field is flourishing. And it has been mostly about you – your research, your scholarship, your reviews, your commitment, your feminism, and your interest in feminist geographies! If you have an idea that you want to blog about this year in order to contribute to our celebrations – let Anna and Lisa know at gpcat25@gmail.com.

Reblog> Call for papers: “Human-technology relations: postphenomenology and philosophy of technology”

Via Peter-Paul Verbeek.

Call for papers: “Human-technology relations: postphenomenology and philosophy of technology”

The international conference “Human-Technology Relations: Postphenomenology and Philosophy of Technology” will take place on July 11-13, 2018 at the University of Twente, the Netherlands. The conference intends to bring together philosophers, scholars, artists, designers, and engineers in order to foster dialogue and creative collaborations around the interactions between humans, technologies, and society. As has been emphasized by several authors (e.g. Ihde, Haraway, Feenberg, Vallor, Latour, Verbeek), we cannot uphold strict distinctions between humans and technologies. As human beings, we are always interwoven with technologies in our daily practices. This conference aims to reflect on the consequences of this idea in philosophy, ethics, science, sociology, design, art, politics, anthropology, engineering, etc.

We welcome abstract submissions for posters, papers, panels, and workshops:

* Papers – abstract 250 words, and up to three keywords [20 minutes talk, 10 minutes for discussion].

* Panel proposals – can consist of up to 4 abstracts (see above), should include a general description (200 words) and the CV of participants and organiser.

* Posters – abstract 250 words, and up to three keywords. (Master students only, there will be a poster competition) .

* Workshops – description of 250 words, specific requirements.

Abstracts, along with a short CV, should be sent to phtr2018@gmail.com.

For an extended call for papers and description of the conference, please, visit https://www.utwente.nl/en/phtr/Call%20for%20Papers/

The conference is organized and financially supported by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Project Theorizing Technological Mediation.

‘An Encounter Between Don Ihde and Bernard Stiegler: Philosophy of Technology at the Crossroads Again’ Nijmegen 11-12 Jan. 2018

Via Yuk Hui. Fascinating line-up of speakers:

International Expert Workshop: ‘An Encounter Between Don Ihde and Bernard Stiegler: Philosophy of Technology at the Crossroads Again’

Nijmegen, 11-12 January 2018Organized by Pieter Lemmens (Radboud University) and Yoni Van Den Eede (Free University of Brussels)

Quo vadis philosophy of technology? The defining moment in contemporary philosophy of technology has undoubtedly been the “empirical turn” of the 1990s and 2000s. Contra older, so-called essentialist approaches that saw technology as an all-encompassing phenomenon or force, the turn inaugurated more “micro-level” analyses of technologies studied in their specific use contexts. However, the empirical turn is now increasingly being called into question, with scholars asking whether the turn has not been pushed too far – certainly given recent technological developments that seem to give technology an all-encompassing or all-penetrating countenance (again): pervasive automation through algorithms and (ro)bots, nanoprobes, biotechnology, neurotechnology, etc. Also, the ecological urgency characterizing our “anthropocenic condition” appears to call for more broad-ranging perspectives than the mere analysis of concrete use contexts. At the same time, nevertheless, the “empirical attitude” keeps demonstrating its usefulness for the philosophical study of technologies on a day-to-day basis… Where do we go from here?

This two-day workshop will be dedicated to these questions by way of an encounter between two leading “streams” in philosophical thinking on technology today. Quite literally we organize an dialogue between two key figures, Don Ihde and Bernard Stiegler, and their respective frameworks: postphenomenology-mediation theory and techno-phenomenology-general organology. Together with these two thinkers and a select group of scholars, we will reflect upon the near-future form that philosophical thinking on technology should take in a world struggling with multiple global crises – the planetary ecological crisis being the gravest one.

Speakers: Prof. dr. Don Ihde (Stony Brook University), Prof. dr. Bernard Stiegler (University of Compiègne), Prof. dr. Mark Coeckelberg (University of Vienna), Dr. Yoni van den Eede (Free University of Brussels), Dr. Yuk Hui (Leuphana University), Dr. Pieter Lemmens (Radboud University), Dr. Helena de Preester (Ghent University), Prof. dr. Robert C. Scharff (University of New Hampshire), Dr. Dominic Smith (University of Dundee), Prof. dr. Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Twente), Dr. Galit Wellner (Tel Aviv University)

Venue: Villa Oud Heyendael, Rene? Descartesdreef 21, 6525 GL Nijmegen (Campus RU)
Time: 11 and 12 January 2018, 10.00h – 17.30h

More information: http://www.ru.nl/ftr/actueel/agenda/@1134542/expert-seminar-philosophy-technology-at-the/

Made possible by the the Faculty of Science, the Institute for Science in Society, the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, the International Office of Radboud University and the Centre for Ethics and Humanism, Free University of Brussels (VUB)

The Guardian of automation

Still from the video for All is Love by Bjork

I have been looking back over the links to news articles I’ve been collecting together about automation and I’ve been struck in particular by how the UK newspaper The Guardian has been running at least one story a week concerning automation in the last few months (see their “AI” category for examples, or the list below). Many are spurred from reports and press releases about particular things, so it’s not like they’re unique in pushing these narratives but it is striking, not least because lots of academics (that I follow anyway) share these stories on Twitter and it becomes a self-reinforcing, somewhat dystopian (‘rise of the robots’) narrative. I’m sure that we all adopt appropriate critical distance when reading such things but… there is a sense in which the ‘robots are coming for our jobs’ sort of arguments are being normalised and sedimented without a great deal of public critical reflection.

We might ask in response to the automation taking jobs arguments: who says? (quite often: management consultants and think tanks) and: how do they know? It seems to me that the answers to those questions are pertinent and probably less clear, and so interesting(!), than one might imagine.

Here’s a selection of the Graun’s recent automation coverage:

Disturbed vision… EchoMedia ‘Lightvert’

Still from the film "They Live"

I came across this via Thomas Dekysser and AdDistortion on Twitter.

Just as with the old Nokia 3220 “funshell” LEDs the principle seems to be that if you turn your head (rather than the device being turned) the advert/picture appears to ‘drag’ out of the light unit.

This obviously presents yet another level of issues around the uses of ‘public’ space and what reasonable expectations of intrusion into one’s attention/vision/cognition might be made, what constitutes ‘choice’ in terms of exposure to these images and lots more things besides…

Reblog> Good Data: Call for Proposals for Theory on Demand edited book

My Cayla Doll

From the Institute of Network Cultures:

Good Data: Call for Proposals for an INC Theory on Demand edited book

Editors: Angela Daly (Queensland University of Technology), Kate Devitt (Queensland University of Technology) & Monique Mann (Queensland University of Technology).

In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in the collection, aggregation and automated analysis of information by government and private actors, and in response to this there has been a significant critique regarding what could be termed ‘bad’ data practices in the globalised digital economy. These include the mass gathering of data about individuals, in opaque, unethical and at times illegal ways, and the increased use of that data in unaccountable and potentially discriminatory forms of algorithmic decision-making by both state agencies and private companies. Issues of data ethics and data justice are only likely to increase in importance given the totalizing datafication of society and the introduction of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation.

In order to paint an alternative, more optimistic but still pragmatic picture of the datafied future, this open access edited collection will examine and propose what could be termed ‘good’ and ‘ethical’ data practices, underpinned by values and principles such as (but not limited to):

  • privacy/regulation/information security by design
  • due process rights
  • procedural legitimacy
  • the protection of individual and collective autonomy
  • digital sovereignty
  • digital anti-discrimination
  • data and intersectionality
  • ethical labour practices
  • environmental sustainability.

Chapters should be short contributions (2500-5000 words) which can take differing forms, for example:

  • Manifestos for Good Data
  • Position papers
  • Traditional academic chapters

Chapters can be theoretical takes or provocations on what Good Data is or should be, or can be case studies of particular Good Data projects and initiatives e.g. Indigenous data sovereignty initiatives, data cooperatives etc. Chapters can also be critiques of initiatives/movements which claim to be ethical but in fact fall short. All chapters, including academic ones, should be written in an accessible way and avoid the excessive use of jargon, etc. Academic chapters will be peer-reviewed. Other contributions will be editor-reviewed.

We encourage contributions from throughout the world and from different disciplinary perspectives: philosophy, media and communications, cultural studies, STS, law, criminology, information systems, computer science etc.

Proposals for chapters (up to 250 words) should be sent to Kayleigh Hodgkinson Murphy (kayleigh.murphy@qut.edu.au) by Friday 15 December 2017. Please include a brief biography (academic/practitioner) and signal what kind of chapter you are proposing (manifesto/academic chapter, etc).

If you have an idea for a chapter and want to discuss it before submitting a proposal, please contact Angela Daly (angela.daly@qut.edu.au) as soon as possible. We may be able to pair, for example, practitioners with academic authors on request.

Decisions on proposals will be made by mid-January 2017, with a first full draft of chapters to be submitted by 31 March 2018. We anticipate the book will be finalized and launched in late 2018, as part of the Institute of Network Cultures’ Theory on Demand series.