e-flux Futures

I dabbled in a little hopeful data futurism for DIS magazine's contribution to e-flux 56th Venice biennaleSTYLES AND CUSTOMS IN THE 2020S. As part of the journal’s ‘super community’ theme, in which “people comprise the planetary computer backend,” DIS crowdsourced predictions for the 2020s. Rather than be pessimistic about the way things are going and put forth predictions for a dystopic 2020, I offered a few hopeful outlooks of constructive solutions for technologies I think raise interesting near-term concerns.

Fortunately, the FTC modernizes the definition of antitrust to address both vertical and horizontal monopolies across markets, thus breaking up Google into three hundred companies. Commercial personalization gets its Snowden moment when a BlueKai data broker whistleblower outlines the extent of the industry’s manipulative, exploitative, and discriminatory targeting practices. Internet of Things companies form a self-regulating body and sign a common Code of Conduct charter outlining what they will not do with customers’ data.

Read more from the rest of the DIS contributors.

Data and Algorithms IRL

This past week was a whirlwind of speaking and conference excitement. Five out of seven days I was on panels, speaking, and moderating in Cambridge, DC, and New York. I figured it was worth a recap with links and videos.

First I had the honor of sharing the stage at Berkman with Bruce Schneier, Joe Nye, Melissa Hathaway, and Yochai Benkler, moderated by Jonathan Zittrain. We discussed Bruce’s New York Times best-selling book, Data and Goliath. One thing that came out of the discussion was the idea that we need a data broker whistle blower, akin to Snowden, to reveal more about the practices of data brokers and expose the more egregious uses of our data.

Next, I was in DC talking about mobile health dataOur Data, Our Health—at the New America Foundation, apparently inspired by an article I wrote for Slate Future Tense a while ago. 

Friday in New York, I was invited to participate in an Algorithmic Transparency in the Media workshop at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. The day focused on how algorithms are used in the newsroom—to generate articles, to recommend content to readers and enhance curation, and to advocate for change using predictive modeling to tell stories.

My favorite, and most out-of-the-ordinary event, was speaking at the New Museum at the 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience, using DIS's The Island (Ken) installation as my stage. I discussed my article about data metaphors, first published in DIS Magazine’s data issue.

And yeah, I also made stock while I was speaking at the fully-functional kitchen island. I'm not sure I completely understand my role in contemporary art...Someone attending read my piece and turned it into this awesome visualization of the argument:

Vsoon 032915 map “Data is the New ____”

Vsoon 032915 map “Data is the New ____”

Back in Cambridge Monday night, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on The Political Startup for the Harvard Ventures, a student-run group. We had a wonderful set of panelists all working to make government data more accessible and usable.

The Political Startup, Harvard Ventures

The Political Startup, Harvard Ventures