cfp: Surveillance and the Mediation of Big Data

4S session(s) organized by Torin Monahan and Anders Albrechtslund

4S Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
October 9 – 12, 2013

Please email titles, abstracts, and institutional affiliations to Torin Monahan   and Anders Albrechtslund by March 15, 2013.

The “big data” paradigm signals an intensification and distribution of algorithmic surveillance across multiple organizational and geographical scales. More than an exponential advancement in storage and processing capacity, big data currently operates as a fluid metaphor for the potential of data analytics to intelligently predict and respond to the needs of individuals and institutions. Clearly STS inquiry could fruitfully deconstruct the technological deterministic slant of discourses surrounding big data so that attention could be drawn to the values being inscribed in algorithms, the profound materiality of cloud computing, the control dimensions of pervasive software, and the active cultivation of new subjectivities as people come to understand themselves through their data doubles. Surveillance is key to these processes, as the capture and processing of data is frequently oriented toward some form of intervention or control. Rather than viewing surveillance through big data as completely automated or neutral processes, this panel seeks to investigate the many forms of mediation and politics inherent in big-data applications.

Possible areas of inquiry might include:
·      Data fusion, profiling, and prediction by security organizations.
·      The crafting of new subjectivities as individuals embrace “quantified self” movements.
·      The social and political effects of “filter bubbles” erected by various search platforms.
·      Gamification of interaction with customers and clients as public and private organizations seek to capitalize on (and control) user involvement.
·      Activist and civil-society harnessing of data repositories and sensing devices to achieve progressive outcomes.
·      The optimization of urban infrastructures through “smart” information technologies.
·      Health technologies used for documentation, analyses, predictions and recommendations.