Inference

Inference is a promise. At the intersection of data and behaviour, inferential moves make ever larger collections of data exciting. A tool of discovery, acts of inference appear to offer an explanatory cause or a future prediction. Sometimes glossed simply as analytics, the nature and use of inference are longstanding mathematical and philosophical debates made […]

Edge

On the precarious edge infrastructures sparkle unexpected. On the leading edge the sea is already rising, the low land drowned. On the island edge you can see who you are in this with. On the bleeding edge communities move fast but are not broken. On the ethnographic edge a consultant works inside out, and cannot […]

Ontics

Even if you have become comfortable with the words epistemic, epistemological and ontological, and now feel confident using them in sentences, it still may be that meeting the term ‘ontic’ lurking in a lexicon, a set of concepts associated with technologies deployed in practices, will unnerve you. If in our vocabulary we already have ‘epistemic’ […]

Art

In the book What Art Is (2013) influential philosopher of art, Arthur Danto, writes about the distinction between art and other things in the world in an attempt to answer the question, what makes art art? To Danto the answer is an essentialist universalism: art objects are designed for viewers to grasp their intended meaning […]

Oil

Oil makes futures and oil breaks futures. The future is linked to our capacity for imagining, for setting trajectories in motion. Unless we actively work against it, the status quo tends to reproduce itself – in our imagination as well as our actions. When we pluralise future(s), the forces that go into shaping particular versions […]

Brain-body

How Trauma Derails the Time-Keeping Part of the Brain (and One Way to Bring It Back) When a client’s “thinking brain” goes offline Why can trauma be so devastating for our clients’ relationships? The answer could lie in the brain Why Connecting with the Right Brain is Key to Regulation (The National Institute for the […]

Informal Welfare

At a library in Copenhagen, community-supported access to welfare[1] is in plain sight. All citizens living in Denmark should have access to welfare services, yet many citizens struggle to access welfare benefits through state mandated apps and websites. Every Tuesday and Thursday, a library hosts Information Technology (IT) support sessions of two hours for people […]

Environment

Environments can seem to be everywhere and nowhere. They are configured as surroundings and relations, object and process, distant and intimate. Definitional projects of identifying environments are often described as insufficient, or as exclusionary and divisive. Environments could seem to be an artefact conjured by those modest witnesses who distance and abstract planetary life through […]

The Rat King

The first Rat King was documented in 1564 in Germany, the last in 2005 in Estonia. There were 61 cases during this time. A Rat King (from the German Rattenkönig) is a collection of black rats (rattus rattus) tied together by their tails such that they take on the appearance of a single creature. The […]

Data

‘numbers beat no numbers every time’ (John King, personal communication) “… peremptory quantification risks begging all the big questions” (Neer and Kurke, 2020: 4) In the millennium between about 2500BCE and 1500BCE, a persistent question in China for confucians, taoists and legalists was how to interpret the meta-division between the original undivided and the world […]

Wondering

Crises envelop us. Pick an area of collective life, and a crisis can be found. Look inwards or talk to friends and family. You’ll find your own body emplaced within one or more crises: inequities, racism, climate change, gender violence, xenophobia. Notions of crisis, however, carry a particular philosophy of time. They are framed as […]

Digital Water

‘Digital water’, understood as the uptake of datafied smart technologies within traditional water supply systems, is imagined by its leading advocates to optimize the economy and sustainability of the water utilities of tomorrow. Digital technologies are envisioned to enable informed decision making in an ever more uncertain world, based on real-time interoperable water data collected […]

Infrastructures

Infrastructures are integral to human life. They are also ubiquitous as electricity networks, water pipes, industrial food production, sewage systems, information and communication technologies, financial systems, and much more. They permeate our societies and can be found in all corners of the world (Winthereik & Wahlberg, in press). Offering a vantage point from which to […]

Disruption

I want you to suspend your disbelief for a few moments and pretend that tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists hadn’t co-opted the word disruption for their eye-roll inducing, money-making endeavours. What might we think about when we think of disruption if the likes of Uber, Amazon and Google simply didn’t exist? For us as both […]

Blockchain

Blockchain is a distributed database; a time-stamped record of transactions, publicized, maintained, and validated by a wide network of participating nodes. Blockchain is an ideological project; striving to create censorship resistance through decentralisation. These decentralised participants group batches of transactions into ‘blocks’, each containing the timestamp of the previous block to form long chronological chains. […]

Monster

According to internet legend, a cursed JPEG-file called ‘smile.jpg’ circulates online. If you find it – if someone sends it to you as an email-attachment or as a link, perhaps telling you “I’ve seen it, it’s not so bad, just spreading the word” – you will see a dog-like creature with a much too human […]

Numbers

Why should we care about numbers? Economic policy is led by gross domestic product (GDP), climate science calls for limiting global warming to 1.5°C, epidemiology uses the basic reproduction number R0 to indicate an infection’s expected impact (e.g. in a pandemic). The interdisciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) has developed an analytics of […]

Evidence

The Cambridge Dictionary defines evidence as “one or more reasons for believing that something is or is not true” (Cambridge dictionary, 2020, evidence entry). This definition reveals some of the core characteristics of how we understand evidence today, namely as something connected to a distinction between “true” and “not true”. But the vagueness of “reasons […]

Lab

The Laboratory, Originally considered a confined space for testing hypotheses, ‘making evidence’ For the lonely scientist to “remove” or distance himself from the experiment Repeating experiments through trials of strength[i] to become ‘matters of fact’[ii]   Puncturing the sterile lab environment    Experimentation evolves with methodological mutations   To understand sociomaterial worlds   Interventions and […]

Movement

The ‘new mobilities’ paradigm outlined by Sheller and Urry (2006) brought movement to the epicenter of the social sciences. The ‘mobility turn’ was marked by research revolving around the interdependent movements of people, information, images and objects. In this regard, to define movement in a network society, is to investigate the circulation of people, information […]

Aesthetics

The notion of aesthetics was famously defined by Kant as the individual judgment of ‘beauty’ defining culturally specific systems. Bourdieu’s work on ‘taste’ was one critical rendering of Kant’s aesthetics as a particular sensibility and valuation of beauty, trained and cultivated as ‘cultural capital’ in elite classes. For Bourdieu, taste is an aesthetic disposition marking […]

Speculation

narrating, thinking, fabulating, doing, weaving, crafting, telling, creating, situating Crooked worlds require crooked methods. As a method and technique, speculation is concerned with accepting that explanation is not enough on its own, and that proof and evidence are not always sufficient when working on complex matters. Contemporary worldly troubles urge an engaged practice of articulating […]

ICT Development

Creating impact in agriculture? A digital application from the Global South One significant problem of countries in the Global South is a scarcity of resources to cover basic needs and services. The common challenges are; universal access to healthcare, lack of scientific knowledge for better agricultural yields, shortage of school teachers, migration problems, climate vulnerabilities, […]

Community

In community studies, the concept of community has traditionally been used to refer to a physical place harboring a group of individuals who share feelings of belonging and solidarity. Members of the community share norms and values and meaningful relations; they trust and are familiar with one another; and, importantly, they share a place (Bradshaw […]

Bureaucracy

Max Weber inaugurated a sustained interest in the study of bureaucracy when, in 1921, Economy and Society was posthumously published. Weber was interested in bureaucracies not only because they are one of many models of organization that have emerged throughout history, but because in modern, capitalist societies, they are the dominant form of governance and, […]

Space

Whether we are indeed in the epoch of space, as Foucault (1984) contends, is secondary to the fact that space has become a ‘key word’ (Harvey 2006). It has also become a substantive research topic across multiple social science disciplines (see de Vaujany and Mitev 2013), especially since the so-called ‘spatial turn’ in social theory […]

Air Pollution

Air pollution is often considered a modern phenomenon. But scientific analysis of skulls from ancient excavation sites reveals that in-door air pollution was a big problem for early man due to in-door fires and poor air conditioning in caves and early settlements. Even though life on earth is inseparable from air, historically air pollution has […]

Maintenance

Maintenance is the art and craft of keeping the material world going. We don’t even need to conjure the concept of “entropy” to see that the world we inhabit together would fall into complete disarray without sustained maintenance. It is helpful to contrast maintenance with repair. Repair, and the breakdowns it is a reaction to, […]

Protest

What does protest mean and how has it changed with the advent of technology? And what happens to technology when it is used as means of protest? Protest movements have a long tradition of appropriating technologies and reinventing their use in ways not intended by their designers. Andrew Feenberg (2002) argues that artifacts also provide […]

Border

The cogito ergo sum of a border would arguably be “I divide therefore I am”. Every other claim about what a border does can be disputed, found to be partial, inaccurate or out-dated, but there is no border that does not divide one thing from something else. Ever since borders first became a particular technology […]

Data Centres

It is not uncommon to imagine our data as residing in the cloud. Although this metaphor provides a seductive grasp on the complexity of a distributed internet, it obscures as much as it reveals. How data is organized and where it is located is rendered in graspable, naturalized terms, as if our digitalised traces roam […]

Privacy Paradox

The privacy paradox is typically defined as the inconsistency between attitudes towards privacy and data disclosure behaviors. Although people often express concerns about their privacy, the same individuals are willing to reveal personal data for small rewards. This “attitude-behavior gap,” as some have described it, continues to confound technologists, politicians and researchers alike. If people […]

Carbon

In his essay collection, The Periodic Table, Primo Levi narrates 100 plus years in the story of a single carbon atom. Starting its journey in limestone rock, this atom moves into organic human and non-human forms of life, and then into atmospheric gas traversing the globe, ending up as part of the structure that shapes […]

Network

The concept of network is a widespread term in contemporary social theory as well as other fields. It is commonly invoked in public imaginaries of the contemporary ‘digital age’. As such it is used, sometimes interchangeably, in both colloquial and analytic ways. Dictionaries define the present day use of the term as referring to complex […]

Digital Responsibility

We define digital responsibility as ‘something more’ than the current attempts at protecting personal data. In 2018, alongside the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulating (GDPR) the liberal-right wing government of Denmark convened a national “Data Ethics Council”, seeing the culmination of years of work of advocates for the term “Data Ethics” (Hasselbach […]

Trust

How can we trust new technologies? With increasing attention towards artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, the question arises as to whether these new tools for decision-making can be trusted. Machine learning algorithms are often presented as systems that automatically learn based on data. As these algorithms ‘learn on their own’ it has proven difficult, […]

State

Some definitions of state, stated in no particular order: State is a material property, as in states of matter, and it is a polity, as evoked by matters of state. In both denoting the configuration of elements understood to be similar; atoms distal and proximal for natural sciences, subjects higher or lower in political hierarchies. […]