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1American University, United States of America; 2Dark Matter Media, United States of America
In this article, we propose a new theoretical lens through which to explore the relationship between sociotechnical artifacts, the messages they convey, and the cultural meanings derived from them. This premise, which we entitle the "carrier wave principle," holds that there is no theoretical limit to the amount and variety of knowledge that may be derived from a given cultural artifact over time. This axiom can be understood as the result of changes in technological regimes and cultural modalities over time and space, and this has been true throughout history. However, continuing exponential growth in the power and ubiquity of computational processing have accelerated this process to the point where new modalities of knowledge production are now available within the course of a human lifetime. We located our analysis at the intersection of several fields of scholarship, including media studies, information science, cultural studies, science and technology studies, and critical data studies. We conclude with an exploration of the carrier wave principle’s real-world consequences and contexts, including implications for privacy, security, identity and subjectivity.
Internet Studies scholarship tends to focus on new and hegemonic digital media, overlooking persistent uses of “older”, non-proprietary protocols and applications by some social groups who are key to configuring the nexus between technology and society. In response, we examine the contemporary political significance of using “old” social media through the empirical case of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) use. We advance a critique of platforms (closed, centralised, hegemonic social media) that we contrast with co-constructed devices that deeply involve users in their technological design and social construction. As a contemporary but long used online chat protocol, IRC serves as an important source for the critique of the currently hegemonic — but increasingly distrusted — infrastructures of computer-mediated communication. Drawing on Boltanski and Chiapello’s theory of critique and recuperation, we contrast the uses and underlying social norms of IRC with those of currently mainstream social media platforms. We claim that certain technical limitations that actors of IRC development did not feel necessary to address have kept it from incorporation into regimes of capital accumulation and social control, but also hindered its mass adoption. Ultimately, IRC continues to serve social groups key to the collaborative production of software, hardware and politics. While the general history of digital innovations illustrates the logic of critique and recuperation, our case study highlights the possibilities and pitfalls of resistance to it.
2:40pm - 3:00pm
A matter of trust: How the politicisation of Computer Security and Incident Response Teams affects the technical community
Leonie Maria Tanczer, Madeline Carr
University College London, United Kingdom
Computer Security and Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) are coordination centres responsible for the management of security incidents. They are fundamental to the smooth functioning of the Internet and can be found within organisations, within sectors such as finance, or on the national, governmental or regional level. In order to effectively respond to security vulnerabilities, CSIRTs engage in international cooperation and information sharing processes. These practices require a substantial amount of personal and institutional trust, which allows the CSIRTs to cooperate even in the context of significant geopolitical tensions. Despite the important role they play in international information security, the global practices of this community have so far remained largely unexplored. This paper analyses interviews with 27 CSIRT representatives to better understand the unique coordination and collaboration challenges that this technical community faces – particularly in the face of intense political contestation over cybersecurity incidents. This examination contributes to the understanding of the institutional landscape of cybersecurity and highlights the importance of ensuring the independence and trust-base of such technical expert groups.
3:00pm - 3:20pm
‘Smart Wake Up’ and ‘Binaural Beats’: Sleep Apps and the Acoustic Modulation of Sleep-Wake Rhythms
bjorn nansen, christopher o'neill
University of Melbourne, Australia
Sleep has become a site of daily monitoring via internet technologies, including mobile applications and wearable devices, as part of a wider normalisation of internet economies and cultural practices of self-tracking and datafication. This article contributes to the critical analysis of datafied sleep by analysing features in the most popular sleep apps.
This analysis revealed a diverse range of functions for tracking and analysing sleep patterns, as well as features to promote relaxation and rest. In doing so, sleep apps remediate the monitoring technologies of the sleep science lab – polysomnography, actigraphy – to make claims for accuracy and efficacy. Yet, the analysis also revealed how sleep apps go beyond simply monitoring sleep patterns by directly intervening in sleep-wake rhythms through two key acoustic features: the ‘smart wake up’ alarm function, and the ‘binaural beats’ sound frequency function. We show how these features operate to organise transitions between waking and sleeping states by directly intervening in and modulating sleep-wake rhythms. In doing so, we argue that these functions draw on histories of both sleep science and acoustic media in attempts to optimise the rhythms associated with sleeping bodies.