Tagged Becky Kazansky

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Becky at 4S conference in Boston

Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), 2017
Boston, Massachusetts, August 30 – September 2, 2017

 

STS (In)Sensibilities

If sensibility is the ability to grasp and to respond, how might we articulate the (in)sensibilities of contemporary technoscience? How, similarly, can we reflect on the extent and limits of our own sensibilities as STS scholars, teachers, and activists? The conference theme invites an open reading and exploration of how the world is made differently sense-able through multiple discourses and practices of knowledge-making, as well as that which evades the sensoria of technoscience and STS. Our aim is that the sense of ‘sense’ be read broadly, from mediating technologies of perception and apprehension to the discursive and material practices that render worlds familiar and strange, real and imagined, actual and possible, politically (in)sensitive and ethically sensible. Find the detailed program here.

 

Becky presents ‘Calculating & Countering Surveillance Risks: Translations in Practice’

With the proliferation of digital surveillance, how to act under the presumption of monitoring and tracking has become a central subject of concern to civil society. The responsibility of the ‘surveillance subject’ extends to the ability to anticipate the likelihood of one kind of security threat over another; to apply risk management strategies to determine the appropriate course of action in fearful and uncertain circumstances; and to own responsibility for the impacts of any ensuing threats. With the risks of emerging phenomena like the ‘internet of things’, ‘smart cities’, intelligent autonomous systems, and preemptive security, the responsibilities placed on chronically under-resourced civil society actors are greater than ever. This paper investigates the practices civil society actors and affiliated technical communities turn to in order to calculate and counter these emerging risks, using translations and boundary objects as an analytical lens to understand security in practice.

The paper draws upon my doctoral research, which bridges surveillance studies and STS approaches to the study of risk, security, and information infrastructures, including the work of Michel Callon and John Law (2005) on calculative practices and Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star on ‘boundary objects’ and ‘boundary infrastructures’(1989; 1999), with the work of critical data and critical security scholars such as Louise Amoore and Claudia Aradau.

The research is done through participant observation, document analysis, and extensive semi-structured interviewing, crossing national boundaries in order to trace transnational interactions. The paper draws upon document analysis of different risk and threat modeling frameworks, and data from interviews conducted with privacy engineers, human rights defenders, activists, and security industry professionals.

 

About 4S

The Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) is an international, nonprofit scholarly society founded in 1975. 4S fosters interdisciplinary and engaged scholarship in social studies of science, technology, and medicine (a field often referred to as STS). Membership in the society is open to anyone interested in understanding developments in science, technology, or medicine in relation to their social contexts.

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[blog] Techno-Galactic Software Observatory

Author: Lonneke van der Velden

 

Early June Becky and I participated in the Techno-Galactic Software Observatory, an event organised by Constant, a feminist art and technology collective in Brussels. It was a great event, in which theoretical insights from the philosophy of technology and software studies were combined with practical interventions which ended in an exhibition.

The event aimed to critically interrogate all kinds of assumptions about software and software knowledge. We discussed how software relates to time, spatializations, perspectives, and the hierarchies implied in ways of looking. The last day of the event was a ‘walk-in clinic’ in which visitors could get ‘software-critique as service’ at several ‘stations’.

The project I participated in was file-therapy. Departing from the Unix-philosophy that everything consists of a file (a program is a file, an instruction is a file, etc.), our desk would take people’s problems, understand them in their property of a file. Next, we would transform these files into other file types: visual data or music files.

We would not offer solutions. The idea was that our visitors, by being confronted with their new visualised or sonified file, could start developing a new relationship to this file. For example, one person would have a problem with her PhD-file: it was a big Word-file full of references and therefore difficult to handle. Working in it becomes a hassle. But listening to the transformed file is rather meditative. The other station in the room would criticise the reductionist ´file-formatted’ vision of the world, and in that way, we set up a dialogue about how computers format our lives.

 

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A comparison of the various problematic files

The observatory was a great event and a learning experience at the same time. Please read other people’s experiences too 🙂

 

About constant

Constant is a non-profit, artist-run organisation based in Brussels since 1997 and active in the fields of art, media and technology.
Constant develops, investigates and experiments. Constant departs from, feminisms, copyleft, Free/Libre + Open Source Software. Constant loves collective digital artistic practices. Constant organises transdisciplinary worksessions. Constant creates installations, publications and exchanges. Constant collaborates with artists, activists, programmers, academics, designers. Constant is active archives, poetic algorithms, body and software, books with an attitude, cqrrelations, counter cartographies, situated publishing, e-traces, extitutional networks, interstitial work, libre graphics, performative protocols, relearning, discursive infrastructures, hackable devices.

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Becky @SensorPublics on Calculating & Countering Surveillance Risks

 

5-7 April, 2017
Becky has presented at the ‘Sensor Publics: a Workshop on the Politics of Sensing and Data Infrastructures‘ organized by Laurie Waller and Nina Witjes, Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS), Technical University Munich. An abstract of her presentation ‘Calculating & Countering Surveillance Risks in an Environment of Ubiquitous Sensors‘ can be read below.

 

SensorPublics

From the geopolitics of remote sensing satellites, to the political-economy of urban sensor networks, the domestic economy of home sensing devices or the democratic promise of participatory citizen-sensing, we are interested in how sensing and data infrastructures become publicly controversial and invested with political and moral capacities. How do sensor publics unsettle relations between political actors and their environments? In what ways do they problematise the governance of big data or the regulation of real-time surveillance? And, can sensor publics provide occasions for democratizing relations between politicians, experts, activists and citizens?

Calculating & Countering Surveillance Risks in an Environment of Ubiquitous Sensors.

With the proliferation of digital surveillance, how to act under the presumption of monitoring and tracking has become a central subject of concern to civil society. The responsibility of the ‘surveillance subject’ extends to the ability to anticipate the likelihood of one kind of ‘digital threat’ over another; to apply risk management strategies to determine the appropriate course of action under fearful circumstances; and to own responsibility for the impacts of any ensuing threats. The extent of this responsibility leads civil society actors to call upon the assistance of security experts, who harden the information infrastructures of civil society organisations, develop security-centric software such as encrypted message and email programs, and push for the standardisation of risk management processes such as threat modeling and adversarial analysis. This push for risk standardization presents an interesting moment of translation among different ‘communities of security practice’. It comes at a time in which ubiquitous sensor networks present new risks and threats to civil society actors. Current security resources aimed at civil society actors are only beginning to address, for example, how activists can safely protest when their every move is tracked across devices and physical spaces with technologies such as advanced facial recognition and mobile phone surveillance. What are the frameworks and practices that civil society and technical communities turn to in order to calculate and counter these new risks and threats of surveillance? This conference paper draws upon my doctoral research, which is done through participant observation, document analysis, and extensive semi-structured interviewing, crossing national boundaries in order to trace the interactions of different communities of practice. In order to conceptualize the interactions between non- security focused communities and security experts, the study draws upon Susan Leigh Star and Geoffrey Bowker’s work on communities of practice in relation to boundary infrastructures and boundary objects. The study bridges science and technology studies approaches to the study of information infrastructures with the work of critical data and critical security scholars such as Louise Amoore and Claudia Aradau, in order to conceptualize how risk epistemologies are produced and circulated throughout different communities of security practice. The paper presentation draws upon one year of desk research and three months of field work.

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Becky Kazansky at IFF

Becky Kazansky is currently attending the Internet Freedom Festival in Spain, The Global Unconference of the Internet Freedom Communities. One can follow her adventures on Twitter.

About the Internet Freedom Festival

Since its beginning as the Circumvention Tech Festival in 2015, the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) has grown into one of the largest, most diverse and inclusive gatherings in the Internet Freedom community.

Challenges to digital rights and online freedom expression have increased in reach and complexity, and so have the communities of practice which have grown and organized to address them. As the evolving Internet Freedom space explores and defines an identity as a community, several realities have become clear:

1. Online threats to human rights and freedom of expression affect us all
These issues have grown in sophistication and scope, with more and more closing spaces for open discussion of these obstacles both online and offline.

2. Networks of practice who address these threats are stronger now than ever before
So is the need to bring these networks together to learn from each other’s experience, to organize collective efforts that are more inclusive and better coordinated.

3. Opportunities for participants to set the agenda are few and far between
More often than not, participants in Internet Freedom community events must find space within a ready-built agenda to have the conversations they want, and need, to have.

4. Diversity of voice is fundamental to the health of a community.
A community with a truly comprehensive grasp of the complex challenges it faces is
possible only through inclusion of all voices – especially those typically underrepresented.

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Session at AoIR 2016: Big Data Meet Grassroots Activism

DATACTIVE was invited to host a session at the AoIR 2016, the Association of Internet Researchers, that took place 5-8 October in Berlin. Stefania Milan, Lonneke van der Velden, Jonathan Gray, Becky Kazansky and Frederike Kaltheuner organised a fishbowl session, building on questions like ‘How are data and information changing contemporary activism? How do individuals and collectives resist massive data collection? How do they take advantage of the increasing availability of data for advocacy and social change?’.

To kickstart the Big Data Meet Grassroots Activism discussion, Jonathan Gray made a short clip on the production and contestation of socio-technical (data) infrastructures to. A full transcript of the video ‘Reshaping Data Worlds’ can be found at his website.

 

Reshaping Data Worlds? from Jonathan Gray on Vimeo.