Key Notes

Postgraduate Conference

Life Writing in the Digital Age: Quantification, Optimization, and the Self

29 Sep, 2017

Key Note

Dr. Chris Till, Leeds Beckett University,

Writing the digital self: automatic subjects and the workers of semiocapitalism 

The development of digital technologies has changed communication in many ways. The inscription of our lives through the “digital exhausts” we produce as part of our everyday existence are a new form of writing about the self. While there have long been administrative data and records about us which influence how we are interpreted by others; self-tracking and other devices are enabling us to take an active role in the production of our “digital doubles”. Data from self-tracking sources are arguably inherently communicative both because they produce content which can be shared by users (in the form of statistics and GPS maps) and because they are networked and always delivering information to other users and corporate or other entities. But do these developments enable us to construct our own identities through data or enable others to control us? William Burroughs famously suggested that language is a virus which structures perception and asserts control. Following Felix Guattari we can see how the language, code and systems which underlie all digital objects function as “asignifying semiotics”, that is, symbolic phenomena which do not directly signify the world but function as control systems which are all the more powerful for not be recognised as such. Self-tracking systems enable the transmission of this viral control into our corporeality by using “nudge” based systems of behaviour change with the aim of creating “automatic subjects” who simply respond to stimuli in the desired fashion. We must therefore see the sociotechnical assemblages enabled by mobile tracking devices as “biopolitical” and “psycho political” interventions. While users potentially benefit from the development of healthier and more productive lifestyle regimes they are also being physically and psychologically reshaped to be more efficient cogs in the semiotic machinery of capitalism. Knowledge, data and semiotic driven production requires affective as well as material and immaterial labour necessitating efficient channelling of physical and psychic energy in order to remain productive.


30 Sep, 2017

Key Note

Marie-Luise Angerer, Universität Potsdam

SENSING: The Knowledge of Sensitive (Affective) Data

Today environment, technology, and humans are linked through their capacity for sensation. One of the consequences of this  linkage can be seen in the translation of data into affective data.
The lecture will analyze the implicit agenda of this translation.