This special issue of spheres contributes to a critical engagement with the politics of reproduction, and as this relates to digital cultures in particular. Job losses, foreclosures, homelessness and dispossession, indebtedness, and rising precarity have shaped the realities of many in the wake of the Great Recession of the late-2000s. Although for many of course, an economic crisis – a crisis in the capacity to meet needs and desires in the context of scarce resources – long predates this point. It is these crises of social reproduction, and the emergence of social movements and struggles from within them, that provides the context in which much recent scholarship on the politics of reproduction has been produced and has circulated. It is also what has given it much of its urgency.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is arguably the new spectre of digital cultures. By filtering information out of existing data, it determines the way we see the world and how the world sees us. Yet the vision algorithms have of our future is built on our past. What we teach these algorithms ultimately reflects back on us and it is therefore no surprise when artificial intelligence starts to classify on the basis of race, class and gender. With this issue of spheres we want to focus on current discussions around AI, automation, robotics and machine learning, from an explicitly political perspective. Instead of invoking and, therefore, perpetuating the spectre of artificial intelligence as a ‘programmed vision’ built on our past, we are interested in tracing human and non-human agency within automated processes, discussing the ethical implications of machine learning, and exploring the ideologies behind the imaginaries of AI.
We have just published a new contribution to Issue #1: Politics after Networks! Based on his research project Campus Medius, Simon Ganahl explores “Digital Mapping in the Humanities.” After presenting the initial and the forthcoming version of campusmedius.net, he elaborates on the website’s data model, which operationalises Foucault’s dispositif and Latour’s actor-network. The article finally outlines the project’s long-term plans of establishing a digital platform for “mapping modern media”.
Please join us for the launch of our fourth issue on “Media and Migration” at the Welcome and Learning Center in Lüneburg on July 4th. spheres: Journal for Digital Cultures is an open peer reviewed web journal associated with the Centre for Digital Cultures (CDC) at Leuphana University of Lüneburg. It is concerned with contemporary, historical and emerging discussions about digital cultures, while at the same time exploring the theoretical, political and social stakes within these debates.
In our fourth issue of spheres, we investigate the significance of digital technologies for migration and the relation between migratory regimes and practices on the one hand, and digital cultures and infrastructures on the other.
For more information, visit the Facebook event that you can find here.
Have a look at our newest contribution to Issue #3: Unstable Infrastructures! In their article “Humanitarian Media Intervention”, Tim Schütz and Sebastian Kubitschko focus on the entanglement of forced migration, humanitarianism and the attempt to spread sociotechnical imaginaries of alternative wireless networks. By the example of “Freifunk for Refugees”, the authors highlight the struggle for migrants’ communication rights – not only in terms of providing Internet access at refugee shelters but also of articulating the infrastructural and political implications of open communication networks.
Carolin Wiedemann, Kritische Kollektivität im Netz. Anonymous, Facebook und die Kraft der Affizierung in der Kontrollgesellschaft, Bielefeld, transcript, 2016
Gilles Deleuze hatte es schon 1991 prophezeit: Jedem Gesellschaftstyp seine Maschinen, den Kontrollgesellschaften die Computer. Deren kybernetische Logiken haben sich mit neuen, biopolitischen Formen des Kapitalismus verbunden. Herausgekommen ist dabei Facebook, jene Plattform, auf der die User_innen sich permanent selbst vermessen und vergleichen.
Doch wodurch kann das Dispositiv von Kommodifizierung und Kontrolle unterlaufen werden? Was kann als subversiv gelten, wenn die Unterwerfung freiwillig ist und die Theorie kein intentionales Subjekt mehr kennt?
Clemens Apprich, Vernetzt. Zur Entstehung der Netzwerkgesellschaft, Bielefeld, transcript, 2015.
Many technologies and practices that have shaped Web 2.0 today date back to the 1990s – and so do the ideas of social media, user-generated content and participatory platforms. Thus, from a media-historical perspective, a lot of the ideas from that period about the future of the Internet have been implemented, albeit without fulfilling the envisioned socio-political utopias. (more…)
Florian Sprenger, The Politics of Micro-Decisions. Edward Snowden, Net Neutrality, and the Architectures of the Internet, Lüneburg, Meson Press, 2015.
Be it in the case of opening a website, sending an email, or high-frequency trading, bits and bytes of information have to cross numerous nodes at which micro-decisions are made. These decisions concern the most efficient path through the network, the processing speed, or the priority of incoming data packets. (more…)
Irina Kaldrack, Martina Leeker (eds.): There Is no Software just Services, Lüneburg, Meson Press, 2015.
Contributors: Ned Rossiter, Jussi Parikka, Christoph Neubert, Liam Magee, Andrew Lison, Christopher M. Kelty, Anders Fagerjord, and Seth Erickson. (more…)