In this half-day symposium we invite members of the Digital Data and Society consortium to propose and present papers that connect to the theme of Digital Data and Automated Futures.
Digital data is an increasingly embedded element of everyday life as sensor technologies, self-tracking devices, institutional metrics, and forms of resistance to these become part of the configurations through which we live. Simultaneously automated features of technologies, are creating new possibilities for institutional, regulatory, user and activist engagements with data (eg through smartphone apps, cars with AD features, drones, forms of AI assistants).
This raises a series of questions relating to existing data and automated technologies are being used in everyday life contexts and the implications of this is for our more immediate and imagined futures.
This symposium seeks to scope out some of these issues, specifically from the perspective of the social sciences and humanities. It calls for an interrogation of the relationship between digital data and automation, the technological possibilities they create, the contingencies and forms of improvisation through which they are lived out, and a position about how we might intervene towards creating responsible and ethical automated data futures.
Sarah Pink, RMIT University
Sophia Maaslen, University of Sydney: Future-making ethnography practice
Venessa Paech: Online community management automative risks and opportunities: do we need mindful AI?
John Lenarcic, RMIT University: Digital Data as Kipple: Searching for Aporia in Mundane Automation
Chuan Khoo, RMIT University: The life of slow data
Donnell Holloway, Edith Cowan University: “You just want to know if his little heart is beating”: Market discourses about baby wearables
Julian Thomas, RMIT University: Pasts and futures of automated vehicles
The day will finish with an early evening lecture presented by Evelyn Ruppert:
Automation depends on multiple practices that seek to mediate and smooth out the differences, contingencies and frictions within and between datasets. Data thus exist ‘in potentia’, as possibilities that can only be realized through practices that make them ready for combination, computation and interpretation. Myriad rules, procedures, and routines organize and structure these practices, which are made explicit in documentation called metadata, or ‘data about data.’ The premise of metadata is that by making practices explicit and transparent, accountability for and trust in data can be secured. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted across several national and international government statistical offices, I explore how metadata legitimize practices that make data usable and powerful and serve as vital infrastructures in the crafting of automation.
Evelyn Ruppert is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She studies how digital technologies and the data they generate can powerfully shape and have consequences for how people are known and governed. Her research attends to how digital technologies and data are also changing how people understand themselves as political subjects, that is, citizens with rights to speech, access, and privacy. How citizens make claims to such digital rights through what they say and what they do through digital technologies are key questions that she addresses. Evelyn is PI of an ERC funded project, Peopling Europe: How data make a people (ARITHMUS; 2014-19). She is Founding and Editor of the SAGE open access journal, Big Data & Society. Recent books are Being Digital Citizens (co-authored with Engin Isin) published in April 2015 (RLI International) and Modes of Knowing (co-edited with John Law) published in August 2016 (Mattering Press).
Following on from the public symposium held in 2016, this book interrogates how new digital-visual techniques and technologies are being used in emergent configurations of research and intervention. It discusses technological change and technological possibility; theoretical shifts toward processual paradigms; and a respectful ethics of responsibility. The contributors explore how new and evolving digital-visual technologies and techniques have been utilised in the development of research, and reflect on how such theory and practice might advance what is “knowable” in a world of smartphones, drones, and 360-degree cameras.
Edgar Gómez Cruz is Vice-Chancellor Postdoctoral Research Fellow at RMIT University, Australia. He has published widely on a number of topics relating to digital culture, ethnography, and photography.
Shanti Sumartojo is Research Fellow in the Digital Ethnography Research Center at the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Australia.
Sarah Pink is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Digital Ethnography Research Center at RMIT University, Australia.
Adrian Dyer, Alison Young, Anthony McCosker, Paolo Favero, Bradley L Garrett, Ingrid Richardson, Jair Garcia, James Oliver, Larissa Hjorth, Lachlan MacDowell, William Balmford, Yolande Strengers, Melinda Hinkson