SCMS, Day 2

My obligatory conference day-of-hooky has come a little earlier than usual; under ordinary circumstances, I usually burn out on panels on the third day and zip off to do some shopping or sightseeing or other non-session related activity. Here, it’s turned out that today’s the day, for a whole series of reasons, mostly that I’m presenting tomorrow, and the main panels I want to see today were scheduled for 8.30 am and 5.00 pm.

But I also went to the book exhibit this morning. I now find conference book exhibits deeply depressing — both in the too-muchness of interesting work I’ll never get time to read, and in the too-fewness of publishers by whom I’ve already been rejected. To recuperate, I decided to take some time off and do a bit of writing and thinking. I’ll post some of those thoughts soon, but do want to post my notes from this morning’s session.

Sad to say, the 8.30 start time (5.30 am to my west-coast self) and the confusing layout of the hotel’s conference facilities (conference rooms are on three different floors of two different towers, and all of the rooms are named after trees; note to hotel designers: if you’ve got two towers, naming the rooms in one after trees and the other after flowers, or fruits, or presidents, would be a kindness) conspired to make me forty minutes late for the session. I missed Fred Turner’s presentation, “Digital Journalism and the Anxious Citizen,” entirely, and caught only the last few minutes of Michele White’s “Public Privates: Representation of Women Webcam Operators at Home and in the Office.” It’s a shame; the discussion that followed made it clear I’d missed great papers. The good news is that I did get to hear that discussion, as well as the final paper:

Mark Andrejevic, “Nothing Comes Between Me and My CPU: Wearable Computers and Mobile Privatization”

  • everybody in the tech world seems to be working on ubicomp now
  • projection of metaphor of cyberspace onto physical space — surfing physical space like you surf the internet
  • mobile subjects become their own avatars, leaving traces as they move from one interactive space to the next
  • images of smart clothes
  • gendered natured of argument about interiority — ways that interiority is described as empowering; might be critiqued from feminist viewpoint (interiority as site not of freedom but of labor)
  • incredible list of things smart clothes will be able to do: “these clothes will be your friend and confidante”
  • ubicomp: “computing’s third wave” (Mike Wisner?)
  • second wave of computing — personal computing — era of digital bourgeois interiority; computer as technologically augmented version of nineteenth-century window-mirror (Adorno, Benjamin)
  • Adorno on bourgeois interiority, describing Kierkegaard — but the escape provided by the window-mirror is the escape of the privileged
  • websurfing as electronic flaneur; flaneurie as attempt to reprivatize social space
  • strange passivity of person wearing smart clothes — suit makes decisions
  • wearable computing as the ultimate realization of commodity fetishism?
  • uncanniness of this fetish resides not in the fact that we don’t get it, but rather that we get it and go along anyhow
  • smart clothes capture an uncanniness that’s somewhat unique to this period of self-reflexivity

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