Extractions: Digital Infrastructures and the public good

EXTRACTIONS: Digital infrastructures and the public good

How is the common good articulated/enacted in the making of digital research infrastructures?  The building of public infrastructures such as roads and railways can be read as a project of modernization (Edwards, 2003) and colonization (Appel, 2012). The ongoing large scale funding of digital infrastructures can be located within this tradition of infrastructure building, but also raises novel issues and questions. Focusing on infrastructures encompasses not only transport or technological infrastructures that circulate humans and things/nonhumans, but also reflects on a much broader mode of infrastructuring the social through platforms and hubs for knowledge circulation. Today, innovation policies in Europe and beyond seem to point to the future as the next frontier to be colonized by means of technological acceleration. In the name of the public good, states invest today in digital research infrastructures that will enable fast knowledge circulations for the advancement of research in diverse areas such as biotechnology, energy or urbanism. Digital infrastructures are expected to enable value creation, innovation and economic growth. Yet, on the margins of institutional innovation policies, the digital has also enabled the emergence of a number of activist, grassroots and ‘open source’ initiatives that deeply question conventional notions of the public, and the public good. 

This workshop aims at exploring interconnections between digital research infrastructures, the public good, and the making of futures. It attends to practices of extraction, abstraction, circulation and appropriation that enable the translation of common resources such as air, water of living entities into digital objects, and to the kind of promissory and future oriented dimensions of such work of infrastructuring. We take that ‘extraction’ encompasses a movement in which something is taken out of its place leaving some traces behind, but without being necessarily replaced. This workshop plays critically on this notion of ‘extraction’. The inspiration for the workshop draws on the case of the Norwegian bioeconomy. In this context, the Norwegian state heavily sponsors the development of digital infrastructures that are expected to enable the transformation of ‘national resources’ such as national fish stocks or the arctic biodiversity, into data and eventually into some kind of knowledge form that is appealing and exploitable by industry. This workshop invites a discussion on the kinds of ‘extractions’ and transformations that such work of digital infrastructuring enables, and the visions of the common good that different forms of infrastructuring may deploy. We invite contributions on empirical instances in which digital research infrastructures are developed within institutions but also by activist and grassroots actors in Norway and beyond.   Continue reading

Ada: journal of gender, new media and technology issue 12

Ada, Issue 12 Launched

Table of Contents

1. Alexis Lothian (2017): Introduction: Issue 12: Radical Speculation and Ursula K. Le Guin

2. Tuesday Smillie (2017): Radical Imagination and The Left Hand of Darkness. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.

3. Aren Aizura (2017): Communizing Care in The Left Hand Of Darkness. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.

4. micha cárdenas (2017): Imagining a Trans World. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. Text.

5. Joan Haran (2017): Instantiating Imaginactivism: Le Guin’s The Dispossessed as Inspiration. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.
Transcribed talks:

adrienne maree brown (2017): Ursula Le Guin’s Fiction as Inspiration for Activism. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.


Grace Dillon (2017): The NishPossessed: Reading Le Guin in Indian Country. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.

Digital Health

Fantastic workshop at the Foundation Brocher ‘Citizens’ use of digital media to connect with healthcare: exploring the socio-ethical and regulatory implications’ – organized by Alan Peterson, Claire Tanner and team.

We spent three days hearing about different perspectives on digital health – from online medical testing; global trades in embryos and stem cells; statistical tests, norms and calculators; citizen health databases; health records to hacking health. A framing question might be that of what connects and disconnects – for example connection through some nodes means disconnection through others – or more philosophically what might be the constitutive disconnections of connectivity.

For me one of the questions that came through in relation to stem cells was that of the importance of science communication and its role. In a context in which press releases and PR actors are significant and in which there is an imperative to make optimistic claims about direct benefits of research, media cultures of optimism built up over decades can create a vacuum that enables the conditions in which unproven treatments become popular.

Another key theme was about trust and legitimacy – what are the loci, nodes and conditions for creating trust or legitimacy? In a broader context of uncertainty, do experience and feelings about experience and testimony become ever more significant and do social media platforms exacerbate and intensify this?

The presentations at the workshop included:

Sally Wyatt: The Internet as innovative healthcare technology
Klaus Hoeyer: The data politics of digitalized healthcare
• Kate O’Riordan: Disconnection in the culture of connectivity: health records, digital health promotion and patient care
John-Arne Skolbekken: Meaningless numbers? Reflections on the construction of individual risks
Caroline Sanders: Dissolving and creating boundaries in healthcare via the collection and use of digital patient data on symptoms and experience
Leigh Turner: U.S. clinics using direct-to-consumer online advertising to promote unapproved stem cell interventions: ethical, legal, and scientific concerns
Alan Petersen, Claire Tanner and Megan Munsie: What is ‘trust’ in digitally mediated healthcare?: exploring the experiences of patients and carers who contemplate stem cell treatments
Andrea Whittaker: Digital reproduction
Roberta Raffaetà & Adiano Jannacos: Hacking Health Movement: A win-win game?