RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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300 The co-productions of data-based living (1): Mediated life: technologies, affect, routine
Convenor(s) Matt Finn (Durham University)
Nat O'Grady (University of Southampton, UK)
Chair(s) Matt Finn (Durham University)
Timetable Friday 29 August 2014, Session 1 (09:00 - 10:40)
Room Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Lecture Theatre G34
Session abstract Whether in education, healthcare, insurance, scientific research, shopping, policing, emergency response or border control, the ubiquity of data, software and digital technological processes have become crucial underpinning forces in organisational transformation and the re-configuration of lived experience (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011). Data-based living has problematised how we think of the present whilst exposing us to multiple, often contingent, visions of the future. At the same time, the life of data needs to be explored by the conditions of possibility it opens up for the formation of new modes of governance and intervention across different spaces and times (Amoore, 2013). How do actors come together and what spatialities are emergent in the production of data-based life? What language can capture the multiple forms interface takes and how is decision making redefined along new lines as a result of technological innovation (Galloway, 2012)? How can we think of the practice and politics of mediation? And how do people manage, contest or care for data and their effects?
Linked Sessions The co-productions of data-based living (2): Space-Times of Data governance
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Smart cities and the politics of urban data
Rob Kitchin (National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland)
Tracey Lauriault (National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland)
Sung-Yueh Perng (National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland)
A key element of smart urbanism is the production of massive quantities of data concerning citizens, services and places which are used to know, augment, mediate, and manage city life. Such data are produced in diverse ways by ubiquitous and pervasive socio-technical systems that are increasingly embedded into urban environments, including directed, automated, and volunteered means, produced by overlapping, oppositional and competing data assemblages (consisting of a complex amalgam of systems of thought, forms of knowledge, finance, political economy, governmentalities and legalities, materialities and infrastructures, practices, organisations and institutions, subjectivities and communities, places, and the marketplace). The politics of such data are complex as they are being generated and used in contradictory, paradoxical, emancipatory and oppressive ways, working to create and reproduce complex power geometries. In this paper we examine the politics of urban data in the ‘big data’ and ‘smart city’ age and how citizens are interpellated into, resist and make their own data assemblages, and how data are used in dataveillance, profiling, social sorting and anticipatory governance.
Seeing behind closed doors
Ewa Luger (The University of Nottingham, UK)
Chris Speed (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
This paper reflects on the reconstruction of the family home as it becomes reconstituted through the addition of data that is streamed from smart objects. Living in an environment that is equipped with an Internet of Things involves the placement of multiple sensors that record change in conditions, in order to construct a simulacrum of the actual house from which to analyse and form understandings of behaviour, and in turn opportunities for connection.
Through reviewing the imprint of their family, in the data gathered over time, occupants find that they are not only able to identify their routines, but also single out the routines of individual family members. This paper explores an author’s personal experience as he became aware of the activities of his partner, son and daughter. An awareness that offered insights that were previously forgotten such as the toilet habits of children who were once dependent on him to change nappies and supervise toilet training. These intimate endeavours are now revealed in patterns within data sets. The authors will explore the implications of a ubiquitous domestic vision, as personal routines and habits that were previously hidden behind doors and walls become visible.
The paper will reflect upon the initial findings of the Hub of All Things (HAT) project that involves the collection of domestic behaviours through sensors on objects in homes to uncover insights of into patterns of use and consumption.
Towards a theory of socio-techno-spatial mediation
Agnieszka Leszczynski (University of Birmingham, UK)
The convergence of location with ICTs and networks is underwriting pronounced shifts in the intersections of technology, society, and space that we (re)enact through our seamless enrolment of location-based technics (hardware/software objects and information artifacts) in the spaces and practices of the everyday. Geographers and others have begun to attend to the effects of the pervasiveness that these material presences have assumed in our everyday lives, often making reference to our interactions with space/place, technics, and each other as (progressively) mediated. However, what mediation means in this context, as well as the implications of this claim, have remained largely unexamined and undertheorized. Building on Verbeek’s (2005) postphenomenological theory of mediation, which privileges the moments of contact between us (humans) and artifacts (technologies) as productive of our material realities, I advance mediation as a framework for capturing and accounting for the ways in which the horizon of society-technology-space relations is increasingly perceived and experienced by us as mediated, i.e., as interpenetrated and constituted by spatial information flows, digital-material codifications and mobiliziations of place/space through a host of location-aware devices, the spatialization of interfaces (as a proxy for our experience of digital content), and the underwriting of technologically brokered social interaction and connectivity by spatial logics. Mediation, then, is a relational ontological claim about the nature of our material (socio-spatio-technical) realities as produced through, or at the moments of, our encounters with spatial media.
Data-based security, visual transformations, and the question of agency
Matthias Leese (University of Tuebingen, Germany)
Contemporary calculative devices have become both cross-cutting among many areas of everyday life, as well as highly complex and hard to retrace – even for experts. Algorithmic architectures, for instance, are often described as ‘black boxes’ which analytical procedures, due to constant bug-fixing and tweaking of millions of lines of source code, are at a certain point not even understandable for their developers anymore (Introna, 2013). Thus, how to make sense of such a ‘hidden hand’ that impacts our lives in manifold areas such as education, healthcare, insurance, research, shopping, or policing and border control? Considerable accessibility can be reached through abstraction on the visual level.
This paper explores how security operations incorporate large-scale analytics, but then eventually find themselves forced to reduce complexity in order to enable timely ground-level decisions and ensuing action. While the very choice of visual representations must be conceptualized as inherently political (Dörk, Collins, Feng, & Carpendale, 2013), the scope of the analysis lies on the unfolding agency of the visual itself. Thus, which consequences emerge from distinct forms of visualization – from complex relational networks to simple artifacts such as color codes or risk flags? And, more specifically, how to locate agency within complex assemblages that are shaped by both human and non-human actors (Latour, 2007; Lisle, 2014)?
The social arguably undergoes multiple transformations on its way through the production, content, and impact of the visual (Bleiker, 2014), that are both the result of decisions and the necessary condition for further decision-making. Thus, in order to approximate the Derridarean question of the possibility of human decision-making against the backdrop of ‘the machine’ (Derrida, 1994), the question of agency and how it is transformed through multiple layers – of which the visual is but one – appears central for the exploration of an overarching theme of ‘data-based living’.