Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
PaperSession-19: Materialities
Friday, 04/Oct/2019:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Alessandro Caliandro
Location: P504

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9:00am - 9:20am

Pressure Controls: Data forces creeping through fingertip commands

Simon Taylor, Kevin Witzenberger

University of New South Wales, Australia

AI methods and ubiquitous data sensors have enabled a new algorithmic quantification of affect with the possibility to detect or verify users’ identities, characteristics, emotional states, and physical traits. By scrutinizing how transient datasets are produced by user applied pressure on touch-screens (via fingertip commands) this paper showcases how sensory technology creeps into users’ everyday life with potential implementations connected to a series of emerging data issues engineered by a black-box design: one which obfuscates data production and precludes user consent under the disguise of “non-intrusive” features. Thereby, this paper explores the limits of user-based interrogation of black-boxes by researching tactile modes of operation, as a subset of behavioural biometrics, and sensors that register force in touch analysis and haptic technologies.

Presenting a citation analysis of biometric techniques around the proposed usage of pressure; the authors offer a case-study examination of zinc-based force-sensing materials that are cost-effective and scalable to ubiquitous-computing and a prototype developed using ‘each pixel as a sensor’. By combining these approaches, this paper argues that such developments constitute a phenomenological shift away from users’ perception to data infrastructures working as assemblages of hidden technical sensations, and there is a need to expose these complex networks to afford some grasp, if not direct agency, over their micro temporal operation. This work aims not simply to theorise, but to help reveal ways users may revise, embrace, resist, subvert or even live data practices that operate unlike conventional data harvesting techniques.

9:20am - 9:40am


Luke Heemsbergen1, Adam Molnar2

1Deakin University, Australia; 2Deakin University, Australia

How do users come to trust VPNs? How do they understand end-to-end encrypted messaging technologies? This paper aims to answer these questions by considering VPNs and e2e encryption as boundary objects of the internet pertinent to study (dis)trust in the system. Our aim is to follow Star’s clarification of boundary objects as entities that people act towards (or with) in relation to their own communities of practice via a feminist approach to technology studies, which for Star, linked lived experience, technologies, and silences in ways that proved political. We add to the literature in three ways: empirically unpacking VPNs and e2e encryption as boundary objects that tack back and forth between the technical and abstract, which is novel for the literature; an exegesis of boundary objects ‘on’ the internet to consider conceptualizing objects ‘of’ the internet, which opens a fruitful reconfiguration for internet research; and shedding light on the ways that symbolic registers of technology have profound implications for socio-material practices. Our work suggests the back-and-forth ‘tacking’ of abstract to concrete does not manifest as universal and singular, but is made manifest from multiple community vantage points. This complexification shows how digital objects of the internet feed and are fed by multiple use cases and relational practices across commercial, security, rights based, and identity practices that they underpin, undercut or act upon. Users trusting the politics of one case may miss a need to police the other; we conclude by contextualizing these concerns for future research ‘of’ the internet.

9:40am - 10:00am

The Future of Printcrime: 3D Printing and Gun Control in the Age of Trump

Matthew Rimmer

QUT, Australia

This paper provides a comparative analysis of the regulation of 3D printing and gun control in the Age of Trump.

In a 2006 short story, ‘Printcrime’, Cory Doctorow imagined a dystopian future of contraband 3D printers. In the work, the police force try to shut down a bootleg operation engaged in the 3D printing of intellectual property. Such science fiction fantasies seem grounded in the reality of legal conflict in 2019.

In 2018, the Trump Administration has sought to settle the federal government’s dispute with Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. In response, the Attorneys-General of 20 States – led by the Washington State Office of the Attorney-General – sought to block the Trump Administration action For its part, Defense Distributed has sought to challenge new laws in New Jersey outlawing the distribution of 3D printed gun designs. Meanwhile, Cody Wilson has been facing criminal charges in respect of other matters, and has left Defense Distributed.

In contrast to the United States, Australia has taken a strict approach to both gun control and the regulation of 3D printing of guns. Some states have passed sui generis laws to govern 3D printing of guns. In the 2018 case of R v Sun, Steven Sicen Sun pleaded guilty to multiple offences for making and possessing 3D-printed guns. In Queensland, police arrested Sean Patrick Murphy from the Sunshine Coast over the production of three handguns produced by a 3D printer, as well as a number of weapon parts.

10:00am - 10:20am


Chang Lin1, Jenna Jacobson2, Rhonda McEwen3

1University of Toronto, Canada; 2Ryerson University, Canada; 3University of Toronto Mississauga, Canada

The paper investigates the factors that influence perceptions of online risk and the consequential behavioural responses to those perceptions. Using Bates’ theory of information behaviour, we focus on online protection strategies and digital archiving as a specific instantiation and manifestation of information behaviour and analyze how factors, such as perceptions of online risk and self-reported internet skills, have consequences for information behaviours.

The study uses semi-structured interview data (n=101) collected from East York, Toronto. We asked about individuals’ perception of risk online, self-reported internet skills, protective measures when going online, and digital archiving practices. Our findings identify a nuanced relationship between perceptions and behaviours. The results offer an alternate perspective on online information behaviour that departs from traditional classifications that rely on demographics. We offer a refinement to the definitions of information behaviour by Bates (2010) and Fisher and Julien (2009) to include factors that modify behaviours, and develop a user typology relating specifically to perceptions of risk online.

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