[iDC] Introduction

Jathan Sadowski jathansadowski1 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 1 17:18:02 UTC 2014

Hi Everybody — sorry for the very late introduction.

I'm a PhD student in the "Human and Social Dimensions of Science and
Technology"—just another name for Science & Technology Studies (STS)—at
Arizona State University. My program is situated within a kind of hybrid
think tank and university research center called the *Consortium for
Science, Policy & Outcomes* <http://cspo.org/>. I'm also affiliated with
the *Center for Nanotechnology in Society* <http://cns.asu.edu/> and
the *Frankenstein
Bicentennial Project* <http://frankenstein.asu.edu/>, both of which are
also based at ASU.

Broadly speaking, my research and writing focuses on the ethics, social
justice, political economy, and theory of technology. More narrowly, I'm
writing a dissertation on "smart cities" — specifically, I'll be describing
the discourses around them, giving a critical analysis of the
social/political/economic issues thereof, and advancing a theory called
"cyborg urbanization," which looks at the interfaces among

In addition to the usual academic publishing—here's a plug for a recently
published article of mine: "Creating a Taxonomic Tool for Technocracy and
Applying It to Silicon Valley
<http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2448338>"— I'm a
freelance writer of commentary and criticism about these broad topics for a
wide range of public outlets. You can find my work in the following: *The
Atlantic <http://www.theatlantic.com/jathan-sadowski/>; Slate
<http://www.slate.com/authors.jathan_sadowski.html>; Wired
Al Jazeera America
<http://america.aljazeera.com/profiles/s/jathan-sadowski.html>; Dissent
<http://www.dissentmagazine.org/author/jathan-sadowsi>; The New Inquiry
<http://thenewinquiry.com/author/jathan-sadowski/>; LA Review of Books
<http://lareviewofbooks.org/contributor/jathan-sadowski>. *I'm also on
twitter: @jathansadowski. <https://twitter.com/jathansadowski>

I'm looking forward to the conference, everything sounds so interesting!

My talk is titled, "*From Mega-Machines to Mega-Algorithms: Digitization,
Datification, and Dividualization.*" In short, the critic Lewis Mumford
described a prevalent form of organization he called “mega-machines”: giant
sociotechnical mechanisms—with humans acting like the cogs in a
machine—that used authority, hierarchy, and bureaucracy to structure,
organize, and control people. Mumford’s insights are still relevant, but
need some updating. In the time of networked computing and smart
technologies, what I call the “mega-algorithm” is taking over, with people
acting as information nodes, inputs, and outputs. People are atomized by
digital tech and blown apart into streams of data fed into processors. They
provide productive labor, and are incorporated into the mega-algorithm,
just by existing on the network. The logic of the system is to create,
collect, and extract value from data wherever possible.


Jathan Sadowski

Jathan Sadowski

– PhD student in the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology
– Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes
– Frankenstein Bicentennial Project | 1818 - 2018
– Center for Nanotechnology in Society
– Arizona State University
– Twitter: @jathansadowski <https://twitter.com/jathansadowski>
– Writing: *The Atlantic <http://www.theatlantic.com/jathan-sadowski/>;
Slate <http://www.slate.com/authors.jathan_sadowski.html>; Wired
Al Jazeera America
<http://america.aljazeera.com/profiles/s/jathan-sadowski.html>; Dissent
<http://www.dissentmagazine.org/author/jathan-sadowsi>; The New Inquiry
<http://thenewinquiry.com/author/jathan-sadowski/>; LA Review of Books

On Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 8:08 AM, Mushon Zer-Aviv <mushon at shual.com> wrote:

> *TL;DR:*
> We will run a workshop for prototyping (interface) interventions into
> (digital) workspaces.
> Hi there,
> Sorry for postponing my introduction until now, as my contribution to the
> conference is still a work in progress.
> My name is Mushon Zer-Aviv, I’m a designer, an educator and a media
> activist based in Tel Aviv and previously in New York where I know some of
> you guys from. Currently I’m teaching digital media at Shenkar School for
> Design and Engineering and am doing some work on budget transparency in
> Israel (but enough about me <http://mushon.com/about/>). I have attended
> the first Digital Labor conference at the New School in 2009 and wrote a
> paper for Mobility Shifts in 2011.
> My design work often attempts to re-politicize interface both as a control
> mechanism and as an opportunity for agency. I'm researching, writing and
> designing tools and platforms that attempt to go beyond “User Generated
> Content” and suggest a more critical approach that could be thought of as
> “User Generated Interfaces”. For example I am currently collaborating with
> Helen Nissenbaum (NYU) and media artist Daniel Howe on a new browser plugin
> called AdNauseam that fights back against ad networks profiling and
> targeting. AdNauseam works together with AdBlockPlus. Every ad blocked by
> ABP is silently “clicked” by AdNauseam, obfuscating the profiles gathered
> by ad networks as a form of protection, resistance and protest. AdNauseam
> is due to launch in the coming few months.
> Back in 2009, Lilly Irani presented Turkopticon
> <http://turkopticon.ucsd.edu/>, a great example of user generated
> interface, where software is used as an opportunity to imagine and practice
> different working conditions. Inspired by these types of interventions (and
> by the delicious dinner that Trebor cooked back in March) we wanted to
> offer a hands on experience in prototyping critical interfaces. We see this
> as another form of critical research and also as an opportunity to question
> the potential and scope of such an approach. Can browser plugins
> meaningfully transform the workspace? Or are they just a placebo for worker
> agency? Would these interface interventions help politicize the working
> conditions or would they just further legitimize them? What other types of
> interventions can we think of to politicize the online workspace and to
> extend worker agency and solidarity?
> We are still working on the details, but ideally we would love to get
> workers, academics, designers and developers in groups examining specific
> online work spaces and manipulating them. Potentially, if framed right,
> such a seemingly “proactive” approach could also help get the corporations
> behind these platforms involved in the discussion.
> I would love to get your thoughts and ideas on this initiative and can
> definitely see the discussion we have here helping to shape what will
> happen in the workshop itself.
> Cheers,
> --
> Mushon Zer-Aviv
> Mushon.com | Shual.com | @mushon <http://twitter.com/mushon>
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