FROM “GEEK” TO “CHIC:” WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY AND THE WOMAN QUESTION
City University of New York/BMCC and Grad Center, USA
Wearable technology has been hyped as the next revolutionary technology. Amid differing opinions regarding its overall impact, scholars have explored questions it raises about bodies, technology, and connection, with ‘geek’ technologies, for fitness and medical use, receiving the most attention. With the rise of ‘chic’ tech aimed at healthy bodies identifying as female, this project examines fashion tech designs currently on the market, and finds these products reveal a deep cultural ambivalence about what women want, and what society wants them to be. Drawing on ethnographic interview data with fashion tech designers, textual analysis of 50 news articles, content analysis of fashion tech product websites and ad campaigns, as well as participant observation at wearable tech expos and meet ups, I found three prevalent assumptions about women informing these devices. First, women are potential victims. Second, women should be as available to others as possible, especially those who are in their care. Third, the idea that women and tech don’t mix, while gradually evolving, still prevails as a stereotype within the popular imagination.
TRACK YOURSELF AND SHARE WITH US. DIGITAL SELF-TRACKING AS A SOCIAL PRACTICE.
University of Bamberg, Germany
Mobile and Wearable devices makes self-tracking as a practice of systematically recording information about one´s life easier than ever before. Self-tracking confirms the cultural expectations of the importance of self-awareness, reflection and responsibility and gives the users tools for managing themselves and improving their lives. Besides the automatization of collection and data processing especially the manifold ways of sharing individual life data forms the innovative character of modern self-tracking applications. People can share their individual measurements with other users on social media, blogs or in other forms of online or offline communities. Therefore, self-tracking may not be analyzed as an individual practice but have to be seen as a profound social and communicative practice. Despite a body of literature is beginning to emerge that addresses the social, cultural and political dimensions of self-tracking, only a few studies analyze systematically motivational and social factors for self-tracking. This research gap should be filled with findings from a two-step qualitative study: Users of self-tracking applications report their self-tracking behavior in a diary and are interviewed about their usage experiences, motives and sharing behavior of self-tracking data. Based on the diary and interview data the presentation intends to show why self-tracking can be seen as an expression of how the “rules” of the internet can change self-experiences and the way how personal data is handled.
Feminism in the era of the Quantified Self: Agency, labour and future markets:
UNIVERSITY OF BRIGHTON, UK
How can “self-knowledge through numbers” open up new spaces for feminist politics and interventions in health policy, personal data, reproductive rights and technologies? This paper analyses how discourses about women’s empowerment and reproductive choice are articulated in relation to data collection, by drawing from three areas of empirical research: promotional websites of apps and other wearable tools for tracking women’s hormonal function, fertility, pregnacy and menstruation; online campaigns and projects that aim to influence innovation in biotech and personalized health, such as the Hormone Project; and content analysis of Quantified Self meet-up video recordings, specifically around hormonal tracking by women. Through theoretical frameworks of biopolitics and reproductive labour (Dickenson, 2007; Thompson, 2005), I discuss how feminist and data futures are imagined, and how far data collection has the potential to make the voices of women heard, beyond the articulation of consumer demands about digital health. In particular, I question how the imaginary of control that is promised by self-tracking both obscures the gendered and unpaid labour of self-tracking, and operates to create future markets.
AN ETHICS OF AMBIGUITY IN AN ALGORITMIC CULTURE: RELATING TO ‘THE OTHER’ IN MEDIA LIFE
Södertörn University, Sweden
In her An ethics of ambiguity (1947/1976) Simone de Beauvoir outlined the theoretical foundation for an ethics where the freedom of the individual is a core foundation, side by side with an ethical acknowledgement of ‘the other’. The vantage point of de Beauvoir’s philosophy is that humans are fundamentally free, a freedom that comes from our "nothingness," grounded in our self-reflexive abilities, and self-consciousness. But beside this freedom every human being is also a thing, a "facticity," an object for others. The ethical ambiguity comes from the fact that each one of us is subject and object, freedom and facticity, at the same time. We have the ability to take note of ourselves and choose what to do. But we are also constrained by physical limits, social barriers and the cultural and political structures of the societies we live in.
De Beauvoir rejects any notion of an absolute goodness or moral imperative that exists on its own, why our ethics can only be traced and found in our socially and culturally anchored choices and actions. Based in a qualitative study of how ordinary media users relate to others in practices, actions and discourses in their everyday lives, I will put forward the ambiguities that people struggle with in an ‘algorithmic culture’. Following the anthropological tradition of ‘an ethics of the ordinary’ (Lambek 2010) I am in this paper presenting an analysis of how ordinary media users ambiguously relate to others in their everyday lives with and in digital media.
Big Dataphenomenology: Embodied Big Data
Karolin Eva Kappler
FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany
Pursuing the current problem of (not) making sense of Big Data and the fruitless efforts to detect its value, the paper proposes a phenomenological view on Big Data. In a reflection on enriched, small, big, thick, and raw data, it introduces the distinction between body and embodiment (in German: Körper and Leib), following the phenomenological tradition of perception and thinking of corporeality. By this, it denunciates the missing depth and context in current (digital) data assemblages, suggesting the concept of Embodied Big Data.