Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
PaperSession-22: Internet of Things
Friday, 04/Oct/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Jatinder Singh
Location: P504

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11:00am - 11:20am

Observing the tech, using MeetUp data to study the evolution of the discourse around IoT

Luca Rossi1, Matteo Magnani2, Davide Vega D'aurelio2, Obaida Hanteer1

1IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark; 2Uppsala University, Sweden

This paper proposes to use MeetUp data to study the emergence and the evolution of the technological trend commonly known as Internet of Things (IoT). Starting from a manually selected sample of 220 European MeetUp groups we used MeetUp's APIs, to retrieve additional information about the events and participating users. The final dataset consists of 220 groups, 32967 members and 2386 events from 2011 until now (Jan 2019). The results suggest the presence of clearly identifiable European hubs for IoT development but a worldwide crowd of users. From a temporal perspective the MeetUp data shows how IoT exploded in 2015 and how it might have peaked in 2017. Within this period of time IoT has not been a “stable technology” but as evolved incorporating, within its area of “related topics” new and emerging technologies such as Cryptocurrency or cloud computing.

11:20am - 11:40am


Alex Louise Bevan1, Caroline Wilson Barnao2, Robyn Lincoln3

1University of Queensland, Australia; 2University of Queensland, Australia; 3Bond University

In 2018, Schweppes partnered with Ogilvy Brazil to design a smart dress that used touch-sensors to illustrate how women are groped in nightclubs (Dickson 2018). The dress is a strong example of a host of digital devices that mobilise smart technology to legitimate women’s testimony of sexual assault in public space. It also belongs to a growing category of technology closely attached to the body and designed to either protect it from harm or lend credence to previously silenced publics.

Devices like the Ogilvy dress draw attention to the marginalisation of victims’ voices; it owes its existence to institutions of power refusing to listen to women’s testimony. However, the devices also reinscribe the same silencing dynamic by positioning themselves as necessary and more “reliable” evidence of women’s experience than their verbal statements. These devices are sorely undertheorized as potential erosions of the legitimacy of individual testimony and experience that are part of digital culture more broadly speaking (Couldry 2010). The devices are also problematically framed as “solutions” to broader and contextually-sensitive social issues in ways that reify their power dynamics. These devices materialise a relationship among the wearer, bodily threat, and the corporate brand selling the device as a means to further brand recognition and to cohere associations among the brand, a social cause and, perhaps most enticingly, its solution.

11:40am - 12:00pm

Will Bleed for Data: ‘Women’s Wearables’, Crowdfunding Failures, and the Platformization of Reproductive Health

Rae Moors, Sarah Anne Murray

Digital Studies Institute, University of Michigan, United States of America

An increasingly crowded and crowdfunded marketplace of apps and wearables promises to unlock the “mystery” of female-assigned bodies through responsive tracking and science-based planning. From period trackers to basal body thermometers, there is no shortage of options for monitoring reproductive health. This proliferation reflects continued anxieties about gendered embodiment and corresponding datafied interventions as well as how startups negotiate sex, gender, and sexuality when developing products. How are these tensions managed in the perceived success or failure of a product, and how do the various platforms involved function as sites of trust, intimacy, and innovation?

Using discourse analysis and the walkthrough method, we analyze the launch periods of four smart reproductive health trackers. In particular, we focus on technologies that experienced some mode of failure – failed funding, failed trust, failed functionalities. We see these cases of gendered smart tech and their various missteps as an opportunity to interrogate how digital media companies, users, and the platforms on which these devices are launched manage the (in)compatibilities between discourses of innovation and discourses of the intimate and oft-unknowable nature of reproductive health.

Following Srnicek’s (2017) notion that platforms are a primary ‘avatar’ through which connected life is presented to consumers, we critique the platformization of women’s health through two themes: the promise of knowing, or the offer of control in exchange for data; and, infrastructures of innovation, wherein the crowdfunding platform becomes a grounding site where the narrative of innovation is embedded and the success of the product is partially contingent.

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