Recap: Living in the digitalised world

Living in the pre-digitalised world

  • Everybody experiences everyday life “in terms of different degrees of closeness and remoteness, both spatially and temporally
    • Interest in the far zones is less intense and less urgent than the near zones
  • Reality of everyday life is an intersubjective world, shared with others -> differentiates everyday life from other realities
    • Even though there are many different perspectives, there is a common-sense knowledge

How has the internet changed our perception of everyday life?

The History of the Internet

ARPANET: The technological backbone

  • ARPANET was able to connect to thousands of local networks because of its flexibility of communication protocols

Networks: The organisational change

  • Castells proclaims: While hierarchies were most of the time the most efficient form or organisation the internet has empowered networks.
  • Internet driven networks share the features of traditional networks (more adaptive and flexible than hierarchies) but they are now as efficient as hierarchies. Thus, they became the dominant form of social organisation nowadays.

Are networks the dominant form of social organisation?  

Everyday Life In The Internet Area

Technology as the Construction of the Everyday Life

–           no information is lost, all of them have an impact on the here      and now

–           perception of reality through technology as a mediator of reality & there is little knowledge of it

–           mobile phones change city and personal use

–           more and more is being digitalised, objects disappear, dematerialisation is a growing trend

What objects have been exchanged by the smartphone?

Ecological consequences

What are the ecological consequences?

What can we do?

Identity Construction

  • technology causes a social change
  • technology affects individuals’ thinking and actions
  • Objects as symbols of the way of life disappear. Objects with which the individual has expressed his identity vanish

Which everyday life practices have changed because of the (mobile) internet?

Instrument of De-differentiation

  • daily life / economy

How has the daily life been mashed with economic life?

  • private / public

How has the private and the public been interwoven?

Instrument of Control And Power

  • monitoring transactions, localisations and health
  • identify and control micro and macro patterns, networks and connections

“Als der türkische Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan Anfang 2017 Tausende von Regierungskritikern verhaften ließ, offenbarten ihm Smartphonedaten ein perfektes Schaubild von Kontakten und Verbindungen; nicht zuletzt dadurch folgten die Verhaftungswellen so schnell und so umfassend.”

Does the internet empower social movements or does it empower dictatorships?

Surveillance and violence from afar: The politics of drones and liminal security-scapes

Risk transfer warfare

Within the context of risk-management and output maximization “unmanned combat vehicles” (robots) become determinant and indispensable. This produces an even greater inequality of social standing, where an aggressor can act without physical risk and the target is physically exposed. This also has to be regarded as a factor within the decision-making process, so as to lower the restraint in the use of force.


Dehumanization is implicit in warfare. The target of aggression is abstracted of its individuality and turned into a determinable variable. Through this process personal aversion or indifference towards the target is created. Concurrent through categorizing and sorting the target information, the complexity is reduced down to a graspable variable. Within the decision making process these variables determine the way of action.

The drone stare

“Killing is done ‘at a distance’, through technological mediation, without the shock of direct confrontation. The victims become psychologically invisible. The soldier appears to achieve a moral dissociation; the targeted ‘things’ on the screen do not seem to implicate him in a moral relationship.”

  • Moral and social disconnection of action and effect.

Generally speaking more information, gained by digital technologies, enable better decisions about life and death in warfare, but are there also risks of this development?  

“Drone Warfare” a neo-colonial aspect

Othering: Differentiation between “us” and “them”

  • Othering in the context of digitalization. Constructing the own collective identity through exclusion.


–          developed countries

–          civilized

–          technologically advanced

–          interconnected

–          morally superior

–          precise

–          educated


–          developing countries

–          uncivilized

–          technologically backwards

–          disconnected

–          morally inferior

–          indiscriminate

–          uneducated

Born Digital: 8. OVERLOAD

Facts from the text 

  • 161 Billion Gigabytes of digital content were created, stored, and replicated around the world.-> 3 million times the amount of all books ever written
  • Every year, the amount of digital information grows even more rapidly than in the year before.
  • A person’s short-term memory can hold roughly seven items at once.
  • “Enormous gap” between the growing sea of information and limited human attention and information-processing.

What are the negative and positive consequences of this development?

How can we deal with this information overload?

What are the risks of our way to deal with it?

Is this only typical for our information age?

Close reading Wikipedia: knowledge, gender and the internet

Facts from the text:

  • Less than 10% of Wikipedia editors are women
  • Gender bias in content
  • Masculine domain
  • Wikipedia’s promise of openness is controversial

Current status on Wikipedia:

  • A study (Kleeman 2015): male-linked subjects are better researched (e.g. female pornstars vs. female poets)
  • Another study (Reagle & Rhue 2011): female biographies are increasing, however in relation to the female biographies contained in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia falls short (=fear that women are being written out of history once again)
  • Female editors have to construct affective membership in pre-dominantly male community
  • Wikipedia’s identity as an encyclopedia for facts is still governed by historically conservative (male) scientific understandings of expertise and authority
  • Wikipedia requires highly technical expertise, expertise that is traditionally gendered

Is the gender gap a problem for Wikipedia and, as it is the most popular resource to gain knowledge, for global society?

The Zero Marginal Cost Society-Jeremy Rifkin

The Eclipse of capitalism

–           Capitalism transforms every aspect of human life into a commodity

–           Contradiction within this system: Prices are driven down by competition and the increase in productivity

–           Price equals marginal cost equals zero: No profits

The Internet of things

 -Everything is connected: e.g. people, machines, natural resources, production lines, logistic networks, consumption habits, recycling flows

Big Data gets feed to improve the efficiency of the systems

The rise of the Collaborative Commons

  • The IoT supports the spirit of the social Commons
  • The capitalist market focuses on material gain and everyone is very self-interested. The social Commons is based on the desire to connect with others and share because everyone has a collaborative interest.
  • Value gets shared and not exchanged in the Collaborative Commons
  • Collaborative Commons are emerging
  • Collaboratism instead of capitalism or socialism
  • People are social entrepreneurs
  • Value gets shared and not exchanged in the Collaborative Commons

GDP grows at a declining rate because:

  • marginal costs decline in a growing number of sectors
  • fewer purchases are being made
  • the purchases last longer
  • people don’t pay for the products but for their time of usage: Sharing Economy
  • technology replaces the jobs of actual people
  • there are more prosumers that share and there is less exchange at the marketplace

Does this mean the end of capitalism?

What are the risks of a collaborative commons if it would succeed?

The rise of the machines

IoT – the objects

Greenfield states that “the internet of things isnʼt a single technology,” [2] but rather “a planetary mesh of perception and response”.[1, p.31]

He identifies three main fields, or “scales”, where the IoT-technology is being applied[1, p.32].

Bodies – the quantified self

This is the most intimate scale. Here the IoT takes the form of wearable biometric sensors, basically “networked digital pedometers”, which count steps, measure the distance a person has traversed, and estimate the calories being burned.

Homes – the smart home

The connected objects of the smart home are usually marketed to the public for more convenience in everyday life. These objects come in various forms, for example thermostats, coffee machines, robotic vacuum cleaners, etc.

The culmination of this must be the digital assistants, voice-controlled devices that can be used to control all the other connected devices in the home, but also to order groceries or reserve a table in a restaurant.

Public spaces – the smart city

In the smart city, various sensors monitor and track changes in their environment. Data is for example gathered about traffic, air quality or water and energy usage to name just a few

What are the risks of the IoT?

Sassen: Towards a sociology of information technology

Focus on three analytic issues:

  1. The complex interplay between the digital and the material world, focusing on capital fixity and capital mobility,
  2. the mediating cultures that organize the relation between these technologies and users, focusing on the gendering of access to and use of electronic space,
  3. the destabilizing of existing hierarchies of scale, focusing on the emergence of a new politics of places on global networks (p. 365 – 366).

The embeddedness of digital technologies

  • Digital networks have three features: decentralised access, simultaneity and interconnectivity
  • The outcome of these features varies if it is a private or a public digital network (p. 366)
  • While power is distributed in public networks, it is concentrated in private networks.
  • While firewalled intranets and encrypted tunnels for firm-to-firm transactions occupy the public space and so weaken the democratic potential of the internet open access networks strengthen it (p. 367f).

Think about Rifkin. What are the consequences of this duality of networks for his idea of collaborative commons?

Digital/Material Imbrication (Overlapping)

In brief, digital space and digitization are not exclusive conditions that stand outside the non-digital. Digital space is embedded in the larger societal, cultural, subjective, economic, imaginary structurations of lived experience and the systems within which we exist and operate.” (368f.).

Even the most digitalised financial market and digitalised financial instruments require a build infrastructure, but this build infrastructure is (partially) liquified (p. 369).

Mediating practices

“Electronic space is inflected by the [gendered] values, cultures, power systems, and institutional orders within which it is embedded” (Ibid.).

The Destabilizing of Older Hierarchies of Scale

Older hierarchies of scale dating from the period that saw the ascendance of the national state continue to operate; they are typically organized in terms of institutional size and territorial scope from the international, down to the national, the regional, the urban, to the local” (p. 371).

“But today’s re-scaling dynamics cut across institutional size and across the institutional encasements of territory produced by the formation of national states” (Ibid.).

What chances and risks are connected with the destabilization of the older hierarchies of scale?

Modulated cities; Networked spaces, reconstituted subjects

We are used to giving up data, for example to our friends or especially to nameless corporations in the internet and therefore data becomes a currency for expressing our friendships.

They argue that built environment is no longer the standard when it comes to decisions about privacy. Because there are constantly new systems that allow corporations to get information about personal behaviour or f. e. shopping behaviour.

Private and public

  • The barriers of private and public are constantly changing and break down more and more. People may now behave in public as they might have behaved in private before.
  • Networked publics: groups of often-widely-dispersed individuals who come together online to share a common experience of interest.

What are the consequences of “network publics”?

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