my paper Quantifying the Self at XR2014

My paper Quantifying the Self: All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data

Aristea Fotopoulou

at Crossroards in Cultural Studies in Tampere Finland is in

SESSIONS H Wednesday 15:45–17:15 H1 Permeable Boundaries: Bodies in Science, Medicine, and Culture

(Chair: Michelle Iwen, Arizona State University, United States).

Paper abstract

This paper examines the emerging culture of the Quantified Self movement, whose
practitioners undertake a range of practices of data collection, management and analysis, in order to produce knowledge about the self. The movement has been recently understood in terms of surveillance (Phillips) and the Panopticon (Bossewitch and Sinnreich). Drawing from fieldwork with San Francisco and London-based quantifiers, this paper focuses instead on what people do with the new technologies, what tracking means for them and how it gets embedded in their everyday lives. The analysis engages with media (Couldry, Hepp), sociological and anthropological work (Durkheim, Goffman) on rituals, to approach Quantified Self as a media culture that performs ritualistic reconstructions of the Self, and shows how the movement constantly reinvents itself and its position in existing social structures through the narratives that it produces and circulates in the media.

Panel Abstract

This panel will present papers that look at how science, medicine and culture construct,
regulate and/or challenge physical bodies and their borders. More specifically, we will
examine the problematic nature of a normalized “self”, complicated by issues of bodily
excretions and the prevalence of nonhuman biological material within the human body.
This concern for a human “self” is troubled in 18th century Enlightenment discourses of theinterior/exterior bodily boundary and issues of a gender binary, secreting organs, anddisturbances of mood. Moving the body into the 21st century, these same concerns over interior/exterior boundaries resurface in the narratives of bodies in outer space, as concerns about excretion and reproductive capacity unfold along gendered lin
es in biomedical research beyond the bounds of our planet. Finally, we will examine how the idea of a traditionally bounded “self” is potentially challenged by contemporary
immunology/microbiology and explore the subsequent consequences for health practices.

Outputs of NEMODE project

The NEMODE-funded research has now finished and has provided the following outputs (published at the NEMODE website):

Report on Research placement

The Final Report from the placement is available here: AFotopoulou_Nemode End of Placement052014

Slides:

‘All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’, a presentation on platform openness, data sharing and visions democracy. Slides available here: AFotopoulou NEMODE slides 01

‘Climbing Gotzilla with Fitbit: Apps, sensors and all these data’ presentation slides available here: AFotopoulou NEMODE slides 02

Forthcoming Outputs:

  • Participation now! section of Open Democracy (e-magazine) commissioned piece about the Quantified Self. Participation now is a platform co- ordinated by the Open University, which aims to facilitate debate and mutual learning among the many different actors involved, so that we better understand these new forms of public participation in the broader social and political context in which they are situated.
  • Article in The Conversation: Curated by professional editors, The Conversation offers informed commentary and debate on the issues affecting our world.
  • Academic Paper entitled Quantifying the Self: All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data has been accepted by the Academic Committee of the 10T H IN T E R N A T I O N A L CO N F E R E N C E  CR O S S R O A D S I N CU L T U R A L ST U D I E S that will be held in Tampere, Finland, July 1-4, 2014.

 

Tracking biodata: sharing and ownership

The placement has now finished and has provided the following outputs (published at the NEMODE website):

Report on Research placement

The Final Report from the placement is available here: AFotopoulou_Nemode End of Placement052014

Slides:

‘All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’, a presentation on platform openness, data sharing and visions democracy. Slides available here: AFotopoulou NEMODE slides 01

‘Climbing Gotzilla with Fitbit: Apps, sensors and all these data’ presentation slides available here: AFotopoulou NEMODE slides 02

Forthcoming Outputs:

  • Participation now!section of Open Democracy (e-magazine) commissioned piece about the Quantified Self. Participation now is a platform co- ordinated by the Open University, which aims to facilitate debate and mutual learning among the many different actors involved, so that we better understand these new forms of public participation in the broader social and political context in which they are situated.
  • Article in The Conversation: Curated by professional editors, The…

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Fresh: two articles published

Two articles based on our collaborative work in the Storycircle project (Goldsmiths, completed July 2013) have just been published in March, Digital citizenship? Narrative exchange and the changing terms of civic culture, in Citizenship Studies, and News in the community? Investigating emerging inter-local spaces of news production/consumption in Journalism Studies.

In Digital citizenship we explored the possibilities for new forms of ‘digital citizenship’ currently emerging through digitally supported processes of narrative exchange. Using Dahlgren’s (Dahlgren, P. 2003. “Reconfiguring Civic Culture in the New Media Milieu.” In Media and the Restyling of Politics, edited by J. Corner, and D. Pels, 151–170. London: Sage; Dahlgren, P. 2009. Media and Political Engagement. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.) circuit of ‘civic culture’ as a model for exploring the interlinking preconditions for new acts of citizenship, we discuss the contrasting outcomes of research at three fieldwork sites in the North of England – educational (a sixth form college), civil society (a community reporters’ network) and social (a local club). Each site provided clear evidence of the elements of Dahlgren’s circuit (some depending on the intensive use of digital infrastructure, others predating it), but there were also breaks in the circuit that constrained its effectiveness. A crucial factor in each case for building a lasting circuit of civic culture (and an effective base for new forms of digital citizenship) is the role that digital infrastructure can play in extending the scale of interactions beyond the purely local.

 

In News in the Community we examined the emergence of new, inter-local spaces of news production and consumption, drawing again on our extensive fieldwork and interviews with community reporters trained by a community reporter organisation based in the north of England. Practices of news production and content generation are focused on people’s own communities and they are underpinned by an ethos of production, which is grounded in a critical consumption of news and collective processes of skill acquisition. Through an analysis of motivations and practices, we account for the values that sustain community reporter communities and discuss how such practices, while emerging from the place of local community, also extend across wider communities of interest. It is suggested that an evolving practice of skill sharing and mutual recognition could potentially stimulate the regrowth of democratic values.

‘All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’ tomorrow at UCSC

‘All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’: platform openess, data sharing and visions democracy’,

at Center for Cultural Studies, UC Santa Cruz, 5th February 2014

ABSTRACT

Digital culture has long focussed on the quality of content, which constitutes users and producers decisively different from platform owners who manage data quantity, metadata and behavioural profiling. But what happens when users and communities become interested in all these data, and become reflexive of their own practices? What kinds of knowledges are produced when they produce and share new types of data? This paper observes the emerging mediascape of wearable sensors and mobile technologies through utopian and dystopian narratives, and makes special mention to the Quantified Self culture; that is lay people who engage voluntarily in a range of practices of self-monitoring, data collection and analysis. Moving beyond the Panopticon model and questioning the notion of empowerment, the paper suggests that analysing user practices in specific locations can help us understand how the changing role of data in everyday life is symptomatic of shifts in the relationship between citizens and the state.

* slides to follow

** work leading to this paper has received funding from a) European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under the grant EPINET and b) RCUK Digital Economy NEMODE.

Starting at UCSC Science & Justice

This is my first weekend blogpost since moving to California from Brighton, for my research secondment at the Science and Justice Research Center, in Santa Cruz (while I still work on my postdoc in the EPINET project, University of Sussex). The programme of the Center looks really exciting, and I look forward to attending my first research event next Wednesday, January 22, with the President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Peter Yu, as well as UCSC-based David Haussler, which opens up a series of discussions about Science and Justice in an Age of Big Data. At a later date, there will also be a screening of the movie FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement, which was created and produced by UCSC Social Documentary alum Regan Brashear. I also look forward to events organised by Science and Justice Fellows Gene A. Felice II, Sophia Magnone and Andy Murray, entitled Justice in the More-than-Human World: Fostering Care and Affinity in Emergent Collaborations.

My contribution as Visiting Scholar to this fascinating research culture and community will be an interdisciplinary workshop, on March 5th, addressing key issues about the sharing of personal biodata today, which will be co-organised with the Digital Arts & New Media programme and OpenLab. I will post more about this here soon.

Before that, I will be presenting work-in-progress on my project Tracking personal data for use in research: sharing and ownership (funded by RCUK Digital Economy Theme (DE) NEMODE), on February 5th, at Center for Cultural Studies (University of California, Santa Cruz), entitled All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’: platform openess, data sharing and visions of democracy‘. All welcome!