Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Seminar 4 Visible Mediations of Transparency: Changing Norms & Practices

10 September 2015, 10am to 5pm
 Somerset House East Wing, SW1.09, King’s College London,
The Strand

Welcome to our fourth of six seminars in the ESRC-funded DATA-PSST! seminar series. 

We’ll be discussing Visible Mediations of Transparency: Changing Norms & Practices. Your hosts for this seminar are Dr Clare Birchall and Dr. Vian Bakir.

In 2013 Edward Snowden leaked the mass surveillance activities of liberal democracies’ intelligence agencies, but many other techno-social phenomena contribute to today’s increased visuality. Commercial companies employ a wide range of surveillance tools, from applied data-mining and analytics to facial scanning software at supermarket checkouts (Tesco). Social media have normalized the practice of people watching themselves and each other by mediated means; while wearable media such as smart watches (eg Apple Watch) add a more intimate layer of biometric data into the mix. Power-holders are watched through investigative journalism and whistle-blowing websites. Criminal justice tries to reduce crime through electronic tags and other forms of advanced surveillance and intelligent policing. We are thus dealing with a techno-cultural condition of increased, normalized and forced transparency.

As surveillance practices are largely invisible, what cultural resources inform the public’s views on transparency? Media, Journalism, English, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Computing, Politics and International Relations academics who examine issues of transparency, communication and power are joined by activists, artists, companies, politicians and regulators, to debate the following key questions:
-       Through what media, cultural, activist and commercial forms do people learn about transparency issues? What are the dominant messages on transparency?
-       Do people care about liberal transparency (holding power-holders to account)? Do people care about ubiquitous transparency (where their own private lives are open for inspection)?
-       Is there is a disconnect between transparency representations and public opinion, and if so, how it should be addressed?
-       Do we have a healthy public debate on transparency issues? What would improve its quality?
-       Is privacy worth preserving?

The event is reliant on all participants engaging so in addition to short keynote talks, the seminar will function by means of position statements (posted on this blog), roundtable discussions, and open discussion.

10-10.15 Registration (There won’t be tea/coffee at this point, so please purchase one beforehand if you want one. Fernandez and Wells in Somerset House is next door.)
10.15-10.30 Summary of previous seminars (Vian Bakir) followed by introduction to today’s seminar (Clare Birchall)
10.30-11.00: Josh Cohen, The Private Self
11.00-11.30 Zach Blas, Infomatic Opacity

11.30-12.00: Coffee/Tea

12.00-1.30: Roundtable / Open Discussion 1: Public attitudes towards transparency and privacy
inc. position statements from Ben Worthy; Simon Rice; Evan Light; Simona Levi; Madeleine Carr; Yuwei Lin; Gilad Rosner

1.30-2.15: Lunch

2.15-2.45: Mark Cote / Tom Heath: Big Social Data
2.45-3.15: Daniel van der Velden, Metahaven: Black Transparency

3.00-3.15: Coffee/Tea

3.15-4.30: Roundtable / Open Discussion 2: Mediating Transparency
inc position statements from Paul Bradshaw; Andy McStay; Dan McQuillan
4.30-5: Plenary

5.30: Meal at Strada, 13-15 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 7PS (at attendees own expense – please let Clare know if you want to attend clare.birchall@kcl.ac.uk)

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