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Weekend Gems 001

May 3, 2020

Balancing between deduction and prediction, the future of "Zoom Diplomacy" in EU, present signs of what the enterprise of the future might look like and the million dollar question"What technoscientific interventions might make other worlds possible?"

Life Less Normal

Brilliant article by Alex Taylor from The Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design, at City, University of London.I cannot start describing how much I was intrigued and inspired by this essay - 10/10 recommend reading it with a clear mind, ability to focus and a notepad right next to you. Relatively condensed yet definitely on point and presenting the tip of ideas that can lead hours of discussions. Absolutely loved the idea of how datafication (more on that later down the list) actually and very palpably transforms labor and shapes its universal argument.


“The remarkable achievement is that maximum extraction and productivity operates across scales and locations, from the factory farm, to laborers along the supply chain, to the infrastructures of circulation. It’s hardly surprising that human bodies, and indeed other living bodies, appear marginal, if not expendable.”2.

Soft Divisions

We finally have a word for it people! Extended workforce is a phenomenon that I think has been relatively downplayed in the public discourse about the effects of datafication in the shaping of our contemporary mundane. You can imagine my joy then when I read Alex’s essay and Aashay’s thoughts back to back. The future of teams, enterprises and labor is something absolutely worth speculating about and I would be 100% excited to see more projects addressing this. From worker, to user, to “associated agent” - what is tomorrow’s branding of labor? Highlight:“Groups working together take on a fluid nature, coming and going, with the structure of teams changing in essence. The lines between employees and non-employees blur, and you’re left with this web of associated agents of the company. “3.

Towards an emancipatory understanding of widespread datafication

A carefully written essay by Katrin Fritsch, the co-founder of MOTIF Institute. Art as an effective way of bringing awareness and effectively communicating to people the issue of extreme datafication (again, explaining a bit more down the list). At some points the line between absolute datafication and surveillance is completely blurred which sometimes can be a bit flimsy as an argument (not necessarily in this case). So let’s turn this into a question: Can someone really separate these two in an argument? (For whoever wants to actually engage with this question, Zuboff and Klein are great starting points).

Highlight: Definitely the unfitbits.com project.

Reading through the piece made me want to see Simone Giertz create useless machines specifically for the purpose of confusing other machines. Also, finding Katrini Fritsch’s Medium column - her writing is very carefully structured and her series “Risk and Delusion in the Rational World of Machine Learning Engineers”is next on my reading list.4.

Zoom Diplomacy

If the current pandemic crisis taught us something is that maybe, just maybe, tele-working is something that might actually work for a much larger number of occupations that we initially thought it would. But can it really work in the case of international policy making? “Zoom diplomacy”, beyond turning regular EU meetings into interminable Eurovision results section, tells us that democracy needs a kind of immediacy that our current technologies might not yet be able to provide us with.Highlight:Definitely the comparison of the EU meetings to the Eurovision results section.Bonus Round

Datafication, dataism and dataveillance:
Big Data between scientific paradigm and ideology

Here we are friends: Datafication aka the quantification of all possible spaces of life and their translation into bits and bytes. This is an oldie but definitely goodie by José van Dijck from the University of Amsterdam. In this essay, the much referenced -and for good reason- van Dijck explores and questions the ways we use data to extract real information about the world, how we ended up trusting Big Data as poles of objectivity and the path from ‘human’ to ‘user’ and ‘state’ to ‘platform.Highlight:“According to American scholar John Cheney-Lippold, data are cultural objects “embedded and integrated within a social system whose logic, rules, and explicit functioning work to determine the new conditions of possibilities of users’ lives” (even though it’s basically a reference, understanding data as cultural objects really help the reader open up to van Dijck’s ideas, unfolded in this essay).


In an ocean of unwanted, ostensibly relatable and desperate-for-meaning digital art pieces that sprung at the periphery of this pandemic, wellnow.wtf is an oasis of absurdism and gifs.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

(Much) longer read than the aforementioned but if you do not have anything in your reading list for May and you were slightly intrigued by the above, then by all means, go for it.