The fourth annual conference of the Collaborative Research Centre “Media of Cooperation” explores the current challenges of praxeology in a world saturated with data-intensive technologies. What constitutes a data practice and how are digital media technologies reconfiguring our understanding of practices in general? Autonomously acting media, distributed digital infrastructures and sensor-based media environments challenge the conditions of accounting for data practices both theoretically and empirically. What forms of cooperation are constituted in, and by, data practices? What are the historical conditions of possibility for current data practices? And how are human and nonhuman agencies distributed and interrelated in data-saturated environments?
Digital media became of interest to praxeological approaches as they promised to generate storable, traceable data records of their constitutive practices. Social media already collapsed action and its ‘datafication’ such as through structured action grammars and today, mobile devices persistently record and capture user actions and interactions stored in log files. Sensor-based media further promise to automatically produce such records beyond user action only and below human sensory thresholds, as sensors are deployed to record both environmental and practice-based data at even more granular levels.
At the same time, digital media practices were subject to constant contestation. In recent years, we have seen the proliferation of distributed testing, demoing, and evaluating practices and their displacement from labs to society. These rapid developments are especially prevalent in the context of autonomously acting media, smart devices, and artificial intelligence. Experimental empirical research deliberately creates and evokes situations, responses, practices, and conditions for the purposes of testing, provoking, inventing, and evaluating distributed media practices. Such provocations oscillate between
Harold Garfinkel’s ‘breaching experiments’ that intentionally introduced disruption to provoke the unexpected and to imagine media and their practices in alternative ways. Digital media thus do not just produce uncontested records of practices; rather, practices of recording are always entangled with practices of provoking and inventing. As a result, practices of manipulating, influencing, nudging, incentivising, and managing media use through interface design patterns have become part of popular and academic discussions of the digital media ecosystem.
This encourages, so we argue, praxeological approaches to data studies as digital practices cannot be fully understood separately from the data that constitute those practices. Similarly, data cannot be accounted for without consideration of the media and use practices that produce, structure, and evaluate them. The distributed accomplishment of autonomously acting, sensor-based, and artificially intelligent media requires reflexive approaches to data, where the research aim is not necessarily limited to recording and knowing only, but may expand towards engaging, provoking, and imagining media differently. We, therefore, invite theoretical, empirical, historiographical, and inventive design-oriented contributions from various disciplines that enquire into these new modes of recording, provoking, and inventing in the light of how data and practices interrelate.
Topics of contributions might include, but are not strictly limited to
Data practices of evaluating, validating, verifying – e.g. how are data accounted for?
Data practices of distributed testing, demoing, and ‘breaching’ – e.g. how are data part of tests, demos, and experiments?
Data practices of manipulating, influencing, nudging, incentivising, and provoking – e.g. how are data used as rhetorical devices, how are data used to provoke user actions and interactions?
Ethnography of data practices – e.g. what are the ethnographical and methodological challenges and opportunities?
Theory and history of data practices – e.g. what constitutes data practices and what are the historical precedents of current data practices?
Management of data practices – e.g. how are data used and governed within organisations or networks of organisations?
Autonomous data practices – e.g., how are data recorded, processed, and used by autonomous agents?
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Concept and Organization: Marcus Burkhardt, Carolin Gerlitz, Sam Hind, Timo Kaerlein, Danny Lämmerhirt, Tatjana Seitz, Tristan Thielmann, Ronja Trischler, Fernando van der Vlist, Axel Volmar, Ehler Voss