Reblog> CFP: Affect, Politics, Social Media

Via Tony Sampson.

This may be of interest to followers of this blog…

Call for papers: Affect, Politics, Social Media

In prolongation of Affect and Social Media #3 Conjunctions: Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation welcomes proposals that interpret and explore affective and emotional encounters with social media and the ways in which the interfaces of social media in return modulate affectivity. Fake news have come to be a highly debated framework to understand the consequences of the entanglements of affect, politics and social media. But theories on fake news often fail to grasp the consequences and significance of social media content that are not necessarily fake, but are merely intended to affectively intensify certain political positions.

It is in this context that it becomes crucial to understand the role of affect in relation to the ways in which social media interfaces function, how affective relations are altered on social media and not least how politics is transformed in the attempt to capitalize on the affective relations and intensities potentially fostered on social media.

This special issue invites empirical, theoretical and practical contributions that focus on recent (political) media events – such as Brexit, the US and French elections and the refugee crisis – and how these unfolded on, and are informed by, social media. Proposals might, for instance, address how the Trump campaign allows us to develop a new understanding of the relationship between social media and politics. As such the issue seeks papers that develop new understandings of affective politics and take into account shared experiences, affective intensities, emotional engagements and new entanglements with social media.

For more information, including author guidelines, please visit http://www.conjunctions-tjcp.com/

Deadline 28 November 2017

Articles must be submitted to conjunctions@cc.au.dk

Apps & affect – Fibreculture 25

This issue of Fibreculture on “apps and affect” from last year (2015), stemming from a conference of the same name,  has some fairly substantial looking contributions from interesting people. These include a conversation between Alexander Galloway & Patricia Ticineto Clough, the ‘algorithmic agartha‘ paper by Nandita Biswas Mellamphy & Dan Mellamphy I’ve linked to before and (of particular interest to me at the mo) a paper by Melissa Gregg on speculative labour & app development. It’s edited by Svitlana Matviyenko, Nandita Biswas Mellamphy, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Alison Hearn, and Andrew Murphie.

Introduction

In William Gibson’s recent futurist novel The Peripheral, the planet has been devastated by a massive eco-techno-political catastrophe (‘the jackpot’) but remaining inhabitants are still able to enjoy the luxury of activating digital devices simply by tapping their tongues on the roof of their mouths. This touch is sufficient to set into play systems that communicate across space and time – enabling the establishment of connections back in time, for example, to people closer to our own present-day, for whom mobiles are still (somewhat) separate from the body. Thirty years ago, in his first novel Neuromancer, Gibson immortalised cyberspace with the account of what now sounds like an amazingly clunky process whereby the hero ‘jacks-in’ to virtual reality. But in The Peripheral the process of translation and transition into networks is streamlined – occluded, internal, intimate and implanted – right at the tip of the tongue.

This issue of the Fibreculture Journal explores a moment along this hypothetical trajectory by investigating the contemporary intersection of ‘Apps and Affect’, publishing papers from a conference of that name organised in October 2013 by faculty and students at Western University (specifically from its Faculty of Information and Media Studies and Center for the Study of Theory and Criticism). By recognising apps as objects that are related to the constitution of subjects, as a component of biopolitical assemblages, and as a means of digital production and consumption, our conference aimed to make an intervention in what had – since the announcements of the App-Store and the iPhone3 in 2008 – been a largely technical and rather technophiliac public discussion of apps.

Isn’t it paradoxical, we asked, that instead of becoming ‘transparent’ and ‘invisible’ – as envisioned by the thinkers of ubiquitous computing decades ago – the app-ecosystem manifests itself as permanent excess: excessive downloads, excessive connections, excessive proximity, excessive ‘friends’-qua-‘contacts’, excessive speeds and excessive amounts of information? How does the app as ‘technique’ (Tenner), indeed as ‘cultural technique’ (Siegert) and as ‘technics’ (Stiegler), channel our ways of maintaining relations with/in the media environment? Do the specific and circumscribed operations of individual applications foster or foreclose what media theorists call the transformative and transductive potential of collective technological individuation (Simondon)? How might we think about the social, political and technical implications of this movement away from open-ended networks like the internet towards specific, focused, and individualised modes of computing? Do apps represent ‘a new reticular condition of trans-individuation grammatising new forms of social relations’ (Stiegler) or do they signal instead the triumph of ‘regulatory’ networks over ‘generative’ ones (Zittrain)? If apps are micro-programs residing by the hundreds and thousands on cell-phones, mobile-devices and tablets, and affects are corporeal excitements (and depressions) running beneath and beyond cognition, what is the relation of apps to affects?

– See more at: http://twentyfive.fibreculturejournal.org/#sthash.6y9K3uyP.dpuf

Yik Yak on campus and the tensions of public anonymity

This piece in The Seattle Times offers a fairly succinct view on the tensions being performed through students’ use of YikYak, the ‘public’ location-based messaging system in which one posts to a location’s public conversation through an app.

Since the growth in population of social media there has also been a growth in the ‘back channel’ at events such as conferences, a ‘second screen’ conversation around ‘appointment TV’ (at least according to the BBC), and from Facebook onwards, there has been a mediated conversation in the background of university lectures.

The students, especially, first years, take some delight in offering observations about the lecture material, the lecturer and so on – amongst the wider hubbub of conversation about pets, hangovers and the relative qualities and number of attractive people on campus.

However, this can spillover into insult. As noted in the BBC local news coverage of one brave lecturer’s response to insults on YikYak at Bristol.

The Seattle Times piece illustrates how, just as in other kinds of social media, a perception of anonymity and the opportunity to perform ourselves otherwise allows some of us to grant ourselves permission to say some appalling things.

I’ve used the example of Yik Yak, in relation to the performance of identity, in a first year lecture… it may have made some of them think… (or maybe not)

yCklGKOW

Reblog> New paper: Locative media and data-driven computing experiments @syperng & @robkitchin

A really interesting paper by Sung-Yueh Perng, Rob Kitchin and Leighton Evans, definitely worth a read.

New paper: Locative media and data-driven computing experiments

Sung-Yueh Perng, Rob Kitchin and Leighton Evans have published a new paper entitled ‘Locative media and data-driven computing experiments‘ available as Programmable City Working Paper 16 on SSRN.

Abstract

Over the past two decades urban social life has undergone a rapid and pervasive geocoding, becoming mediated, augmented and anticipated by location-sensitive technologies and services that generate and utilise big, personal, locative data. The production of these data has prompted the development of exploratory data-driven computing experiments that seek to find ways to extract value and insight from them. These projects often start from the data, rather than from a question or theory, and try to imagine and identify their potential utility. In this paper, we explore the desires and mechanics of data-driven computing experiments. We demonstrate how both locative media data and computing experiments are ‘staged’ to create new values and computing techniques, which in turn are used to try and derive possible futures that are ridden with unintended consequences. We argue that using computing experiments to imagine potential urban futures produces effects that often have little to do with creating new urban practices. Instead, these experiments promote big data science and the prospect that data produced for one purpose can be recast for another, and act as alternative mechanisms of envisioning urban futures.

Keywords: Data analytics, computing experiments, locative media, location-based social network (LBSN), staging, urban future, critical data studies

The paper is available for download here.

Excellent piece on why smartphone ownership is not a measure of poverty

I saw this piece in the New Statesman thanks to retweets on Twitter.

In the article No, having a smartphone doesn’t mean you’re not poor on “The Staggers” column/blog Liza Cucco, manager of Hackney Food Bank, clearly articulates why using smartphone ownership, and even internet access, as a measure of poverty is a red herring:

Successfully navigating 21st century Britain without interconnectivity is near to impossible; I know this, because despite stereotypes, many foodbank clients don’t actually have smartphones or even email addresses. Those who do have smartphones are not ignorant, they are savvy, choosing to allocate very limited resources to the ubiquitous multi-tool of our time, keeping essential streams of communication open. The moment a phone can’t be topped up or a contract must be cancelled is devastating to a person’s opportunity.

Regular internet access is essential to register for benefits, apply for most jobs (and respond in timely manner to emails offering interviews), to access course information in your studies, manage your bank account, communicate with your child’s school or make an appointment at your doctor’s surgery. In our immediate society, you are expected to be available at all times. Constant access may seem a necessity to a businessman, but it is just as important, if not more, to a cleaner on a zero-hours contract who must be available for work at the last minute, navigating to anywhere they need to be and keeping on top of online timecards to ensure they are paid for their work.

CFP> Transforming work in mobile worlds

Here’s an interesting call for papers from David Bissell and Francis Collins that’s been posted to Crit-Geog-Forum on the ways work is transforming travel and our uses of technology and vice versa, and how that is involved in shifts in how we perform other (perhaps all) aspects of our lives.

Transforming Work in Mobile Worlds

David Bissell, The Australian National University
Francis Collins, University of Auckland

The dynamics of labour has been approached through many different geographical perspectives. In this session we want to explore how the conceptual lens of mobility offers a powerful and provocative way of posing new questions and staging new problems about the practices and affectivities that produce experiences for labouring bodies. Labouring bodies are entangled in various forms of movement and stillness. They involve different configurations of timing, rhythm and habitGoing to work, for instance, for many involves commuting across cities and regions, migrating within and across territories, or undertaking forms of mobile work. There are also distinct temporalities to labour practices that intersect with these mobilities in all sorts of ways – the tenure of a work visa, the rhythms of the workday, or the connections between labour and the timing of lifestages.

Beyond these general assertions about the relationship between temporality, mobility and labour we observe emergent phenomena that are potentially reshaping these connections, inviting us to think them anew. On the one hand there has been a growth in longer-distance commuting as a constitutive feature of some working lives, manifest in mobile work lives, fly-in-fly-out labour, long distance living arrangements and the rise of global work. Similarly, in the realm of ‘migration’ we have witnessed a marked shift towards temporary and circular migration, both in the aspirations and subjectivities of migrants and the governmentalisation of migrant mobilities and lives through temporary migration regimes.

Together, these trends suggest that there might be some profound and intriguing reconfigurations happening in many workers’ lives. But what sorts of transformations are these new working and migratory practices giving rise to? For instance, the trends indicate that these new mobile working practices are changing bodies, changing relationships, changing family forms, changing place attachments, changing communities, and changing the very nature of belonging. This session aims to grapple with precisely these transformations of labour, life and place.

Disciplinarily, this session aims to forge a richer dialogue between mobilities research and migration studies in order to explore how these mobility practices are creating new kinds of subjects; how they are necessitating new kinds of skill; and how new kinds of relationships are emerging. We believe that these new mobile working practices invite analysis through the complimentary perspectives and theoretical resources that mobilities and migration research offers.

We therefore invite papers that explore the relationship between labour mobility and migration, temporality and affect. This could include a focus on the timing and rhythms of social sites like the workplace; the multiplication of labouring bodies through the governmentalisation of time at the border; subjective understandings of timing of lives and labour and its interrelationship with pasts, futures and presents. Other themes may respond to the following questions:

  • In what ways are the multiple temporalities of work being reconfigured through different forms of mobility?
  • How are bodily capacities, thresholds and limits emerging through new working practices, including flexible, precarious or irregular work?
  • How are new temporalities and mobilities of labour generating new forms of aspirations, desire and sense?
  • How might we trace the affective contours of temporality and mobility in labour?
  • What are some of the intersections between forms of mobile or temporary work and expressions of social difference such as gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual difference?
  • What are some of the techniques for exploring the richness of subjective experiences of extended temporariness in migration and/or work life?
  • How are different institutions and organizations implicated in the transformation of work in mobile worlds?
  • What are the implications of the timing and mobility of work and life for experiences of belonging, identity and the generation of community?
  • What connections are emerging between mobile work and other migratory forms such as education, working-holiday, or lifestyle?

Abstract submission: Monday 19th October 2015

Please send abstracts of 250 words max to both David Bissell and Francis Collins. We will contact successful applicants by the 23rd of October 2015. Once selected participants must pay the registration fee and submit their abstracts online at the AAG by October 29th 2015.

Reblog> The Internet of Someone Else’s Things

In a post on TechCrunch Jon Evans runs through the various ways we might have to rethink ownership in a tightly vertically integrated economy of an ‘internet of things’. The article resonates with the talk “Dancing with Data” by Chris Speed that I posted a few weeks ago, about markets, value and how we can understand our everyday uses of digital technologies.

As Chris argues, you/we are already enrolled into markets through the ‘data exhausts‘ of our stuff and as Jon Evans argues in the article, even as the ‘owner’ of the physical device you have no real control over whether or where that data exhaust goes. As Evans goes on to say, there is increasingly a variety of forms of ownership of any given device: there’s physical possession, legal ownership and the ultimate power to command it (what you might call “root” access). Likewise, in an article in The Atlantic (to which Evans links)  Madrigal and Meyer point out the peculiarities of interoperation that an Internet of Things requires:

Most “smart-home” devices right now aren’t talking to each other directly over a local wifi network. Instead, they’re talking to enormous and  centralized data centers, which are then talking to each other, which are then (finally) sending instructions back to different devices in your home.

Evans goes on to argue that we could think about ownership another way:

the possibility of a decentralized Internet of Things; smart things which don’t communicate with any central server, but rather with a peer-to-peer, perhaps blockchain-based network. Consider the way FireChat is being used in Hong Kong, so that protestors can communicate despite the authorities’ control of the mobile networks. You don’t always actually need a central server, especially if you have a distributed-consensus system – like a blockchain – for longer-term data storage and algorithmic coordination.

It’s an interesting, relatively short, article with plenty of links to follow up – worth a read!

The Internet Of Someone Else’s Things

Trojan Horse

The Internet Of Things is coming. Rejoice! “¦Mostly. It will open our collective eyes to petabytes of real-time data, which we will turn into new insights and efficiencies. It will doubtless save lives. Oh, yes: and it will subtly redefine ownership as we know it. You will no longer own many of the most expensive and sophisticated items you possess. You may think you own them. But you’ll be wrong.

They say “possession is nine-tenths of the law,” but even if you physically and legally own a Smart Thing, you won’t actually control it. Ownership will become a three-legged stool: who physically owns a thing; who legally owns it; “¦and who has the ultimate power to command it. Who, in short, has root.

Read the rest of the article.

UK now a mobile-first country

Ofcom, the quango that regulates communications activities in the UK (i.e. broadcasting, mobile phones and internet service provision), has released a report that suggests that the UK population (according to their survey) generally prefers to use their ‘smartphones’ as the principle means of accessing the internet.

They include a few other interesting findings:

During 2014, 4G subscriptions leapt from 2.7 million to 23.6 million.

Smartphone users with 4G are shopping online more than those without 4G (55% of 4G users do this compared with 35% of non-4G users); banking more online (55% versus 33%); watching more TV and video clips online (57% versus 40%); making more face-to-face and voice calls over the internet (28% versus 20%); using services such as Snapchat to send more photos and videos (49% versus 36%); and instant messaging more with services such as WhatsApp (63% versus 50%).

One in three adults (34%) turn over and check their phones within five minutes of waking up. For young people, checking social media messages before breakfast is even more crucial – around half (49%) of young people aged 18-24 check their phones within five minutes of waking up.

Most 16-24 year olds are watching on-demand and catch up programmes on computers and smartphones rather than on a TV connected to a set-top box.

Beware the internet of things”¦ it’s coming to get you

Shawn Sobers linked to a funny comment piece by Stewart Heritage on the Grauniad riffing on the idea of the ‘Internet of Things‘, with the main schtick being that there is such a lack of imagination behind the implementation of such ‘things’ that if we extrapolate then surely the interlinked ‘things’ will do us a mischief”¦ Now, this is humorous, of course, but humour is also a good way to get us to think about why on earth we’re letting ourselves in for a vision of such ‘things’. I am not ‘anti-‘ technological innovation, I am merely arguing that we need to be critically reflective of the motivation behind the development of some of these systems and devices. The same kind of critical reflection we have seen in relation to the ‘MOOC revolution‘…

Here’s one of the funny bits from the article, extrapolating from actually existing technologies into the more ridiculous:

The Internet of Things has already produced some cool-sounding devices. There is the tennis racket kitted out with motion sensors to help you improve your game. There’s the parking sensor that directs your satnav to an empty spot. The basketball that, when bounced on the floor, automatically tells your home entertainment setup to start playing basketball-related content. The bridge that tells people when it’s about to collapse. The smoke alarm that switches itself off and works in conjunction with your electrical outlets to burn you to death in your sleep because it has become jealous of your capacity for love. The remote cave that fills itself with bears and poisonous snakes whenever it detects that someone has started sleeping in it because they’ve convinced themselves that their entire house has grown sentient and suddenly turned against them. All sorts, really. It’ll be fun.

Border Bumping

While the lines drawn on maps, policed at crossings and customs posts, can apparently clearly delineate a border, other technologies that can also (be used to) place us, on one side of a border or another, may ebb and flow with atmospheric, material and technical differences. In particular, the relatively well known tendency for the cellular mobile phone system to record the location of a given device (via triangulation) as some distance from the actual physical location has been interrogated and played with by artists and activists alike.

One such meditation on the vagaries of the locational capabilities of the GSM system is the Border Bumping project. Julian Oliver has played around with how we traverse borders by examining how phones register with the network and redrawing a map of the borders accordingly. Oliver has created an app that lets owners of Android phones contribute to the project.

Here’s a nice video exploring ‘Border Bumping’: