Reflecting back on EDC 2020

As I come to the end of the lifestream blog, I return to questions and aspects I considered early on in the course…

EDC week 3
EDC week 3 (enlarge)

‘Entanglement’ has been a key theme throughout the course – the entangled ‘boundaries of the autonomous subject’ (Hayles 1999: 2), reconsidering the dualisms and false binaries which have increasingly appeared entangled – human/machine, real/virtual, open/closed, public/private and so on…

Dualisms visual artefact
Dualisms visual artefact

Rather than assume I could remain an impartial observer, I became entangled in my “object” of research – the ds106 communities and networks

Miro board
Miro board

Finally, my ‘algorithmic play’ artefact – rather than examine standalone and discrete “black boxes” of code, instead revealed ‘massive, networked ones with hundreds of hands reaching into them’ (Seaver 2013: 10)…

Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash
PhotoFederico BeccariUnsplash.

…multiple codebases entangled with one another, with collective authorship but tangled up with a “Silicon Valley ethos”, commercial interests, neoliberal ideologies and specific notions of “progress”…

‘Algorithmic systems: entanglements of human-machinic relations’
‘Algorithmic systems: entanglements of human-machinic relations’

…a messy and complex entanglement of multiple algorithmic systems and human-machinic cognitive relations (Amoore 2019: 7), algorithmic systems with ‘a cultural presence’ (Beer 2017: 11), both modelled on and influenced by ‘visions of the social world’ (ibid: 4).

Contemplating on how we might think about agency in this context encourages me to consider the ‘broader debates about the status of agency as processes of “datafication” continue to expand and as data feeds-back into people’s lives in different ways’ (Kennedy et al. 2015: 4).

This “feeding back” of data into people’s lives in turn brings me back to the concept of ‘feedback loops’ which question the ‘boundaries of the autonomous subject’ (Hayles 1999: 2) and loops me back to the beginning of the course, when I put up my lifestream blog header image (the Mandelbrot set), a visualisation itself created through feedback and iteration

The Mandelbrot set
The Mandelbrot set (created by Wolfgang Beyer with Ultra Fractal, CC BY-SA 3.0).

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