Living with Monsters?

Social Implications of Algorithmic Phenomena, Hybrid Agency and the Performativity of Technology

IFIP WG 8.2 Working Conference 2018

San Francisco State University, December 11 and 12, 2018

Program chairs: Margunn Aanestad (U. of Oslo), Carsten Østerlund (Syracuse U.), Magnus Mähring (Stockholm S. of Econ), Kai Riemer (U. of Sydney) & Ulrike Schultze (SMU).

Keynote: Lucy Suchman (Lancaster U.) and Paul Edwards (Stanford U. & U. of Michigan)

Location: San Francisco State University

Proceedings: Available as book and online

Our evolving digital worlds generate both hope and fears. Algorithms, using big data, identify suspicious credit card transactions and predict the spread of epidemics, but they also raise concerns about mass surveillance and systematically perpetuated biases. Social media platforms allow us to stay connected with family and friends, but they also commoditize relationships and produce new forms of sociality. While there is little agreement on the implications of digital technology for contemporary work and social life, there is a growing realization that information technologies are performative (MacKenzie 2006) in that they no longer merely represent the world, but also produce it. And given their growing interdependence, the ability to control any given technology is increasingly limited. Stock market flash crashes, induced by algorithmic trading, are highly visible examples of such algorithmic phenomena (Scott and Orlikowski 2014). Have the things we have made become out-of-control juggernauts? Are we living with monsters?

IFIP WG 8.2 has a distinguished history in shaping research agendas around information technology and organisation. For the 2018 working conference, we call for papers from scholars studying information technology and related practices to reflect on the worlds that we help create through our research, debates, and teaching. The metaphor of monsters is intended to stimulate a rethinking of our orientation by compelling us to consider whether, when and why our creations turn against us, and with what implications.

The working conference will feature the panel Studying “Sociomateriality”: An Exploration of Constructs in the Making, chaired by Wanda Orlikowski (MIT). The panelists Dubrava Cecez-Kecmanovic (University of New South Wales), Eric Monteiro (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and Susan Scott (LSE) will offer a constructive exploration of the specific ideas and practices that guide their research studies.

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