Care & Continuity

Surveillance Capitalism

Thank you to Patricia this week. Via our shared screens, she walked us through her Prezi presentation on the opening chapters of Shoshanna Zuboff’s seminal text on surveillance capitalism. With Zuboff’s tour-de-force analysis, we apprehend that capitalism has now focused on expanding the proportion of social life that is open to data collection and data processing. This comes with significant implications for the vulnerability of all members of society, and our privacy. This new and reconfigured form of societal surveillance has changed the power structures with the information economy. Surveillance capitalism reaches beyond the conventional “big brother is watching”, as it accumulates data assets and capital while operating without meaningful mechanisms of consent.

As a follow up to our reading and Patricia’s presentation, I would like to offer a smart podcast which begs the question of how we can rebuild trust as we reckon with surveillance capitalism and the open web. Our online lives are now entirely interwoven with our real lives. But the laws that govern real life don’t apply online. In this TED radio hour, TED speakers explore rules to navigate our vast virtual space. Guests in this TED radio hour include Edward Snowden, misinformation expert Claire Wardle, sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, and social psychologist Adam Alter. It is a perfect follow up to Zuboff’s work!

Screen Fatigue & Care

I admitted to you all that I am suffering from some intense screen fatigue and the supersaturation that is coming from too much work time on my computer. The irony that our critical discussion is about data-driven surveillance capitalism (as we work on the open web) is not lost on me. But here we are. In order to connect in crisis, we must use the tools and infrastructures that we are also “lifting the proverbial veil” on. In order to proceed, we must surf the superhighway of information, contributing to the market-driven process where the commodity for sale is our own personal data. This Faustian bargain acknowledged, I do hope we can turn now to the idea of CARE and center this concept in our own lives. I wonder how each of you is learning to cope, and what you are learning along the way.

I hope we can really reflect on what care might mean in the age of pandemic, precarity, data surveillance, and social distance. And I hope we can harness our sense of what care might mean as we move forward. As we try to look deeper into the Net Mirror, what stories of care emerge?

Our plans for next week & a special invite to #OER20

As many of you know, I am co-chairing the Open Education Research conference. It seems a prophetic vision, but we decided on the conference theme – “Care in Openness” – last Spring. Covering issues of privilege, equity, precarity, power relations and public interest, OER20 will put the spotlight on both the value and limitations of care in open education.

As a result of the recent developments with the COVID-19 outbreak, the face to face OER20 Conference that was to take place in London on 1-2 April 2020 has moved online. The online new (reduced) program is now open and FREE to everyone. So in lieu of our class meeting next week, Alan and I hope you will check out and participate in parts of the online conference. In particular, we would like you to attend the keynote plenary talk from “Screening Surveillance” writer and producer, sava saheli singh. She and I will be discussing her short films that have been a part of our Net Mirror class. To register, click here. In addition, she will also be attending our Net Mirror class the following week of April 9.

Your to-do list:

-If you haven’t already, please watch the Screening Surveillance film Frames and add some commentary in our SLACK channel. I have added some thoughts in SLACK, and I am hoping you will weigh in too. When I speak with sava saheli singh on Wednesday April 1 for the #OER20 plenary session, I will be thinking about your insights into her work when I frame my questions for her.

-Please register for the #OER20 conference and plan to attend the plenary session on Wednesday April 1 at 10:45am-11:30am. (This will also be archived so you can catch it asynchronously as well, although you will not be able to ask a question if you are not there live.)

-Please listen to the TED Radio Podcast “IRL Online” and blog your reflection by Thursday, April 2.

-You are also welcome to include in your weekly blog any thoughts on care and coping in the time of this pandemic.

***Please note, your blog for the week after (for April 9) will include a reflection on #oer20 and sava’s plenary talk. This week (April 2), just write about your thoughts on the TED radio hour podcast, and care during the pandemic.

Alan and I will miss you this coming Thursday night, but we hope you will enjoy #oer20 and our conversation about “Care in Openness”.


Dr. Zamora

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