Things are not what they used to be. Many of the things of everyday life are now connected, responsive, and constantly changing. They are more like fluid assemblages (Redström and Wiltse 2019) than stable objects. These kinds of things often relate to us as we relate to them, perhaps even using us in order to provide value for other actors and user positions in the larger systems of which they are part. Indeed, one of the key functions of connected things has become producing data about everyday life that can be used by corporate platform owners to predict, nudge and control. The general economic model that has been characterized as surveillance capitalism (Zuboff 2019), platform capitalism (Srnicek 2017), and data colonialism (Couldry and Mejias 2019) strongly shapes the designed functionality of things that seem to constantly be getting closer, more embedded, more pervasive, and more essential, as well as more worrying when, for example, reading privacy (or surveillance) policies or being mindful of the strong pull they often exert on our attention and behavior.
In this talk, Dr Heather Wiltse will expand on the conceptual framework of fluid assemblages and how it might be used to come to grips with what contemporary connected things are and do. In particular, Dr Wiltse will focus on the role of fluid assemblages in mediating platformed relations. She will conclude with reflections on the kind of critical design practice and competence that is needed for responsible design of connected things and systems, and how the possibilities of technological innovation might be redirected toward more hopeful alternatives.
Heather Wiltse, Associate Professor, Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå University
Heather Wiltse (PhD) is currently associate professor in design for the data-intensive society at Umeå Institute of Design, Umeå University (Sweden). Her transdisciplinary research centers around trying to understand, articulate, and critique the role of digitally connected, responsive, and data-intensive things in experience and society in ways that can inform response-able design. Building on a background in human-computer interaction, science and technology studies, design, and communication and culture, Dr Wiltse's research focus is currently on doing design philosophy at the intersection of design theory and philosophy of technology. Her recent books are Changing Things: The Future of Objects in a Digital World (with Johan Redström, Bloomsbury 2019); and (as editor) Relating to Things: Design, Technology and the Artificial (Bloomsbury, 2020). She is part of the DCODE project team and a member of the executive boards of the Society for Philosophy and Technology and the Design Research Society.
Join this seminar on Zoom
Meeting ID: 815 3323 9684
- All PolyU PhD students are welcome.
- This seminar, hosted on Zoom Meeting, allows only authenticated users (i.e. Zoom logged-in users).
- Event registration is required (click HERE). Registrants will receive a reading list prior to this seminar.