Activity Tracking and the Bio-Politics of Uncomfortable and Confronting Data.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Suneel JETHANI, University of Melbourne, Australia
Sensor enabled data garnering technology such as the Fitbit produce data that is collected, coded and interpreted across a range of physiological and social practices that are shaped by the production and consumption patterns of particular epistemological contexts and industrial modes of production.Such devices afford a heightened awareness which can be thought to contribute better decision-making. Although data is expressed in goal-oriented terms (10,000 steps per day), it also has distinct characteristics resulting from processes involved in their production and ultimate value envisaged for them. In this paper, I explore the relations between activity tracking and of practices of data avoidance and interference. I argue that an exploration of idiosyncrasy in activity tracking exposes atmospheres, temporalities, energies and rhythms of living socially with data, and this paper engages with the coupling of technical and political affordances produced the in modulation of digital mediation, wearable sensors, data-schema, and algorithms with human knowledge-seeking, anxiety and insecurity. I present ongoing work that presents prevailing mindsets that relate to data production, interference, resistance and refusal in documented cases where these technologies are used idiosyncratically as a negotiation by paying particular attention to the idea that the technical scripts embedded in the workflow of data-garnering, wearable technology shapes the ways in which self-subjectivity is produced, environments are apprehended and programs of action are performed. I suggest that as socio-technical assemblages, activity tracking systems are inflexible in their ability to accomodate agency due to the technical contingencies resulting out of affordance configurations coded in during the design, prototyping and development phases of technology diffusion and assimilation. Practices of avoidance, interference, and refusal present an interesting paradox where technically mediated deception and self-delusion constitute a dimensional politics-of-self where the relevance of uncomfortable and confronting data is framed by ill defined configurations of space/time, interior/exterior, individual/population, and data/self.